The Future of Law and Transportation

18 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2021 Last revised: 16 Sep 2021

See all articles by Gregory H. Shill

Gregory H. Shill

University of Iowa - College of Law; University of Iowa Tippie College of Business; University of Iowa Driving Safety Research Institute

Date Written: August 6, 2021


[Volume 106, Issue 5 of the Iowa Law Review was dedicated to a Symposium, convened in November 2020, on The Future of Law and Transportation. This Essay introduces the Issue and frames the subject.]

Law has played a substantial yet largely uncredited role in shaping, and suppressing, transportation policy debates. Transportation involves tradeoffs and competition for resources—for example, the determination of whose homes are connected by highways and whose destroyed. But it also involves clashes between a particular vision of comfort and convenience—the unimpeded, fast movement of automobiles—and a host of fundamental policy goals, including public safety, racial justice, and climate action. Because legal rules often predetermine the outcome of these conflicts, law has the effect of codifying dubious decisions that were made during the early days of mass automobility and placing the results beyond ready contestation.

This first-of-its-kind Symposium endeavors to open a legal literature on the past, present, and potential of transportation policy. The scholars who participated eschewed the fashionable transportation technology topics of the day and instead confronted essential and long-deferred legal policy questions. They considered these questions through the lens of multiple substantive areas of law, including land use, tax, traffic, vehicle design, consumer and public finance, and state and local government—all with keen sensitivity to economics, politics, race, and culture as reflected in the law. And in doing so, these legal scholars were joined by colleagues from disciplines where transportation scholarship is more established.

This Issue features an astonishing array of scholarship on the future of law and transportation from some of today’s most promising and distinguished scholars of the nascent subject. No scholarly field can trace its founding to a single publication, but it is hoped that this Issue will endure as a formative volume in the field of transportation law.

Keywords: transportation law, state and local government law, law and technology, engineering, land use, racial equity, climate change, mobility, accessibility

JEL Classification: R14, K23, K32, R40, R41, R42, R52

Suggested Citation

Shill, Gregory H., The Future of Law and Transportation (August 6, 2021). 106 Iowa Law Review 2107 (2021), U Iowa Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2021-33, Available at SSRN:

Gregory H. Shill (Contact Author)

University of Iowa - College of Law ( email )

Boyd Law Building
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States

University of Iowa Tippie College of Business

108 Pappajohn Building
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States

University of Iowa Driving Safety Research Institute

2401 Oakdale Blvd.
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States

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