PennDOT outlines action plan for automated vehicle safety


The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has unveiled an action plan to increase the state’s oversight of highly automated vehicle (HAV) safety.

The measures come in the wake of a fatal collision between a self-driving Uber vehicle and a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona.

The voluntary testing policy was outlined by PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards at an automated vehicle summit in Pittsburgh.

“Given public concerns about safety on Pennsylvania roadways, we must implement interim oversight policies while we await legislative action on our request for permanent authorization,” said Richards.

PennDOT will build on the work of Pennsylvania’s Automated Vehicle Policy Task Force, which delivered a number of policy recommendations to the General Assembly, the state legislature, in late 2016.

Until the state enacts legislation governing automated vehicles, PennDOT will ask companies testing them to comply with a testing policy that would require them to:

  • Submit a ‘Notice of Testing’ to PennDOT detailing their basic information
  • Verify that any vehicles being tested meet all federal and state safety standards
  • Demonstrate proof of a training programme for automated vehicle drivers/operators, with a recommendation that these operators have clean driving records
  • Share details of proposed testing routes and locations
  • Provide proof of insurance; and
  • Immediately halt testing of any automated vehicle the operator knows to share hardware or software with a vehicle that is part of a National Transportation Safety Board investigation.

PennDOT also highlighted the importance of connected vehicles, urging the automated vehicle industry to put greater emphasis on developing and deploying vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-device connectivity.

PennDOT said that it will continue to urge the General Assembly to adopt legislation that provides for AV testing on public roadways.

“HAVs hold much promise for enhanced mobility and economic prosperity, but much work remains to be done before the technology matures to the point where widespread use will be accepted,” said Richards.

“Pennsylvania welcomes the continued testing of HAVs, but wants to do so in a way to ensure safety is not compromised.”