DOT to seek public input on integrating autonomous cars and trucks into U.S. roadways

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Two agencies within the U.S. Department of Transportation are seeking public input on removing regulatory barriers to allow the integration of autonomous vehicles onto public roads.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced Wednesday they will publish advance notices of proposed rulemaking “to ensure that all potential approaches are fully considered” while moving forward with autonomous vehicle regulations.

FMCSA’s notice will seek public comment on questions regarding several regulatory areas to better understand how changes to its rules can account for differences between human drivers and automated driving systems (ADS). The agency says the questions focus on requirements of human drivers; CDL endorsements; hours of service rules; medical qualifications; distracted driving; safe driving; inspection, repair and maintenance; roadside inspections; and cybersecurity.

“FMCSA is hoping to receive feedback from commercial motor vehicle stakeholders and the motoring public on how the agency should adapt its regulations for the development of increased automated driving systems in large trucks and buses,” said FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez. “We know that while many of these technologies are still in development, it is critical that we carefully examine how to make federal rules keep up with this advancing technology.”

NHTSA will seek comment on identifying and addressing regulatory barriers to the deployment of ADS vehicles posed by certain existing Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). The agency also wants to hear from the public on different approaches that could be used to measure compliance with the FMVSS for vehicles without conventional controls, including steering wheels and brake pedals.

Both notices will have a 60-day comment period, which will begin when they are published in the Federal Register. Those interested will be able to comment on the FMCSA notice at www.regulations.gov by searching Docket No. FMCSA-2018-0037, and the NHTSA notice by searching Docket No. NHTSA-2019-0036.

Editor’s note: CCJ will publish an update when the notices are published in the Federal Register and are available for comment.