Transportation

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on October 6 announced the latest recipients of federal grants to enable testing of alternative methods of transportation funding. The $95 million Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives program was established under 2015’s FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act.  

President Trump this week appeared to back away from what was expected to be a cornerstone of his plan to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure. Meanwhile, federal autonomous vehicle policy gets an update from the U.S. Department of Transportation and in new legislation expected to go before a U.S. Senate committee next week.

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Personal and commercial drone usage is on the rise, creating new challenges for the insurance industry and policymakers in areas like property damage and liability. Join legal and risk management experts from Florida State University for a nonpartisan, nonadvocative discussion of current and future drone usage. This hour-long session, presented in collaboration with The Institutes Griffith Insurance Education Foundation, will consider the legal and regulatory environment and examine the myriad insurance-related issues that emerging drone technology presents.

CSG Midwest
In 2013, the Washington State Legislature authorized a civil collection process for unpaid traffic fines, which replaced a requirement that the state suspend a person’s driver’s license for failure to pay a traffic violation.
Under similar legislation enacted in California this year (AB 103), county or court collection programs may not initiate a driver’s license suspension due to failure to pay a fine or penalty, except in the case that an individual fails to appear at a hearing. In addition, the law repealed the authority of the court to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of a person’s failure to pay a fine or bail, with respect to various violations relating to vehicles, thus removing the requirement for the department to suspend a person’s driver’s license upon receipt of that notice.
In the Midwest, a Nebraska law (LB 259) enacted this year allows residents to request a hearing if they believe they do not have the financial ability to pay for a traffic ticket.

2016 saw the release of federal guidance designed to define the roles of the federal and state governments in regulating autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles. It also saw Michigan enact the most sweeping autonomous vehicle legislation in the nation. But while those efforts sought to focus on the immediate policy concerns and jurisdictional boundary issues involved in the testing and deployment of self-driving cars, others are starting to consider what are expected to be profound long-term policy and planning impacts of these vehicles across a wide variety of sectors in the decades ahead. These include impacts to the economy, the built environment, safety and energy consumption.

The U.S. House of Representatives this week approved bipartisan legislation known as the SELF DRIVE Act (HR 3388), which would give federal law priority over state laws when it comes to regulating the safety and design of autonomous vehicles. Action now moves to the Senate, where another bill is expected to emerge this Fall and where a hearing will take place next week. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao next week is expected to travel to Michigan to release an update to the autonomous vehicle policy guidance document issued a year ago by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These activities could lead to not only an increase in the number of vehicles being tested around the country in the years ahead but also provide clarity for state policymakers on the role state governments can play in regulating these vehicles going forward.

CSG Midwest

Iowans may be able to access their driver’s licenses via a smartphone app starting in 2018, the state’s Department of Transportation announced in May. According to The Des Moines Register, a pilot program involving about 100 state employees with state-issued iPhones was conducted in 2016 with MorphoTrust USA, a contractor that provides identity-related products and services, to test how real user data were used in a variety of situations.

It seems that each day brings a barrage of new articles on what’s going on with autonomous and connected vehicle policy around the country. Just in the two months since we convened the CSG Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Policy Academy for a group of state policymakers in Detroit (check out the meeting archive with extensive summaries of each policy academy session), there have been plenty of developments. Here’s a collection of some of the recent news, state updates and reports on this multifaceted, rapidly evolving transportation topic.

CSG convened the Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Policy Academy June 12-14, 2017 in Detroit. A group of state policymakers from around the country attended the event. The academy included a June 13 panel on the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy issued in 2016 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and its model state policy. Panelists included Cathie Curtis of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, Staff Sgt. Terence McDonnell of the New York State Policy traffic services section and Santa Clara University law professor Robert Peterson.

CSG convened the Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Policy Academy June 12-14, 2017 in Detroit. A group of state policymakers from around the country attended the event. The academy included a special briefing June 13 by Robert Peterson, a law professor at Santa Clara University in California, who explained how insurance and liability will change as autonomous vehicles come online.

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