The November-December issue of Capitol Ideas magazine features my article on how states and communities are working to improve transportation mobility for older Americans. One of the experts featured in the article is Beth Osborne, vice president for technical assistance at Transportation for America in Washington, D.C. Osborne, a veteran of both the U.S. Department of Transportation and Capitol Hill, in recent years has been working with states on the implementation of complete streets policies. Complete streets are streets designed for safe access by all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders. In this extended excerpt of our conversation, Osborne talks about how complete streets can benefit seniors, how complete streets implementation processes have evolved, how the process differs from state to state, the promise of rideshare companies and autonomous vehicles for improving senior mobility and what kinds of policies state officials should consider during the 2017 legislative sessions. Osborne will be among the presenters next month at Transportation for America’s Capital Ideas II conference in Sacramento, for which CSG is a promotional partner.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) this week issued long-awaited guidance delineating responsibilities of the federal and state governments when it comes to policies to pave the way for self-driving cars. This came as the Obama administration signaled that while strong safety oversight will be a hallmark of policies governing testing and deployment, the federal government will encourage innovation in the industry in recognition of the vehicles’ potential to save time, money and lives. Response to the guidance appeared to be largely positive and with the ink not even dry on the document, a number of states appeared poised to move quickly on new autonomous vehicle legislation in the days and months ahead.

Since 2011, eight states and the District of Columbia have enacted state policies dealing with the testing and/or operation of autonomous vehicles. Those policies and other state initiatives have enabled a variety of autonomous technology testing activities around the country. With guidance to states from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration expected this month and a number of states on the verge of enacting additional legislation, 2017 could be a big year for autonomous vehicles. But legislative challenges still could lie ahead for states looking to push the envelope on this potentially transformative technology.

In 2007, Washington became the first state to ban texting while driving. Nine years later, 46 states and the District of Columbia have passed bans. Driver distraction is a leading factor in many crashes and texting is one of the most common distractions. Despite the risks, many drivers admit to distracted driving and the problem is particularly pervasive for young drivers.

During a recent webcast presented by The Council of State Governments in collaboration with The Griffith Insurance Education Foundation, experts discussed vehicle telematics technology and its impact on the insurance industry.

Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia currently allow marijuana use either for medicinal and/or recreational purposes. As marijuana use becomes more prevalent in states and legalization gains more popular support, states are addressing the myriad issues arising out of marijuana legalization, such as banking, environmental impacts and driving. In light of a new report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety that found drivers who recently used marijuana were involved in twice as many fatal car accidents in Washington after the state legalized cannabis, states are wrestling with the question: How high is too high to drive?

Next month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expected to issue what is being billed as a model state policy as well as “best-practice guidance to industry on establishing principles of safe operation for fully autonomous vehicles.” Then, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) will follow suit with more detailed guidelines and materials in support of the policy this fall. Those two documents are likely to kick off what many believe will be a busy couple of years at the state and federal levels in determining how driverless vehicles will take the roads and the complex policy changes that may be needed to accommodate them. But while many states anxiously await that guidance, a couple are already making moves to accelerate the autonomous future in significant ways.

Vermonters whose driver’s licenses have been suspended for failure to pay fines and fees may find a reprieve this fall following the May passage of a bill by the state Legislature. The bill, H. 571, aims to alleviate some of the financial burden that outstanding traffic tickets and resulting license suspensions can pose, particularly for low-income residents in the rural state, where there are few public transit options and people rely on driving to get to work or school.

In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the Prevalence of Healthy Sleep Duration among Adults—United States, 2014 report, which found that nearly 35 percent of U.S. adults ages 18-60 are not getting the recommended seven hours of sleep per night. The average hours of sleep Americans get each night vary across states and across geographic locations, the average hours of sleep Americans get each night also vary across racial and ethnic groups, age groups, employment statuses, levels of educational attainment, and relationship statuses.The implications of sleep deprivation extend beyond individual health and can impact public safety and the workforce.

Change is commonplace and expected in the auto industry. In recent years, however, talk has been not only about body styles but also about whether or not a body is needed at all—a human body, that is.

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