Sean Slone

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Nevada is home to the Tesla Gigafactory, where lithium-ion batteries for electric cars are being manufactured. The state is a test bed for Hyperloop One technology, for unmanned aerial systems and for connected and automated vehicles. Nevada was the first to pass autonomous vehicle legislation in 2011. With Project NEON, Nevada has undertaken the largest public works project in its history, which will widen the busiest stretch of highway in Las Vegas. The director of the Nevada Department of Transportation, Rudy Malfabon, will discuss how these and other initiatives are driving his state forward. Plus, the committee will engage in interactive policy discussions on the takeaways from this summer’s CSG Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Policy Academy in Detroit and a busy year for state transportation funding efforts around the country.

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.

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.

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 Police 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.

Since 2013, odd-number years have seen a significant number of states seek new revenues for transportation.
In 2013, six states approved transportation funding measures that included gas tax increases.
In 2015, 11 states either increased gas taxes or adjusted them to prevent steeper reductions in revenue.
2016 saw one state—New Jersey—increase its gas tax.

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 an opening panel on June 12 featuring Jonathan Weinberger of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group representing 12 of the largest U.S. automakers, and Steve Gehring of the Association of Global Automakers, which represents 12 international auto companies with operations in the United States. Later, Doug Longhitano of Honda, Hilary Cain of Toyota and Harry Lightsey of General Motors joined the discussion.

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 concluding panel on how policymakers and others may be able to envision and help bring about what some see as a better vision of the autonomous and connected vehicle future: one that involves a shared-use model of transportation and electric cars. Panelists included Tim Frisbie of the Shared-Use Mobility Center, Prashanthi Raman of Lyft, Carla Bailo of The Ohio State University and Kelley Coyner of George Mason University.

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