Freedom, Trust, and Mobility: A Study in U.S. Autonomous Vehicle Regulatory Policy and Federalism
65 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2020
Date Written: April 2, 2019
Over the next decade, autonomous vehicles (AVs) will become increasingly prevalent throughout the United States (U.S.), transforming the nation’s transportation landscape. However, there is no guarantee that the potential benefits offered by AVs will be fully realized or that AV providers will serve the public interest in addition to their bottom line. The Federal, State, and Local Governments in the U.S., for the most part, have not effectively prepared for the inevitable arrival of AVs. Therefore, when our team assessed the current AV regulatory environment, we identified under-regulation at the federal level, a mix of disconnected regulations at the state and municipal levels, and a set of diverse stakeholders across all levels of government who are uncertain of the path forward.
To produce the greatest impact, we chose to focus our analysis on the municipal-level governance for several reasons. First, municipalities have been the driving force for innovation and experimentation in AV testing and pilots. Second, the real thought leadership on AV regulation has occurred mainly at the municipal level, as federal and state regulations have provided the base upon which municipal regulations are layered. Third, municipal governments have faced the highest amount of uncertainty and risk surrounding AV implementation.
To arrive at a prioritized set of recommendations local governments and AV providers, we used a proprietary “4P Framework,” which assigns equal weighting and consideration to (1) People, (2) Profit, (3) Planet, and (4) Possibility. After a thorough evaluation of these criteria, we focused on six key recommendations:
- 1. Implementing A Flexible Curb-use Model with Dynamic Pricing;
- 2. Creating an AV Piloting Checklist;
- 3. Appling Geofencing to Urban Core;
- 4. Prohibiting Digita Redlining;
- 5. Defining Clear Rules of Data Ownership, Use, and Retention; and
- 6. Taxing Low-Occupancy/“Zombie” Cars.
Although we arrive at a set of effective practices recommendations for municipalities to consider, the value of these series of articles is in guiding the development of AV regulation holistically rather than prescribing specific recommendations. As such, municipalities should use this report as a starting point and determine appropriate policies based on the context of their specific situation, adapting the effective practices to best align to their policy goals.
Keywords: AVs, Autonomous Vehicles, Local Government, Regulatory Policy, Public Policy, Harvard, Harvard Kennedy School, HKS
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