Then National Association of City Transportation Officials (“NACTO”) released its policy recommendations for automated vehicles on June 23, 2016. Although much of the discussion to date has focused on the safety and technology of automated vehicles, NACTO wants the conversation to include the impact of automated vehicles on existing infrastructure, driving parameters on city streets, and the potential for additional congestion.

NACTO’s policy recommendations include:

  • Shift to fully automated vehicles, rather than partially automated vehicles. According to NACTO, partially automated vehicles could “encourage unsafe driving behavior.” Because of this, NACTO encourages regulators to bar partially automated vehicles from city streets.
  • Carefully plan the increased capacity of streets and expressways. Automated vehicles have the potential to increase the number of vehicles on the road. This could overwhelm existing city streets and parking facilities.
  • Set safe driving parameters in the vehicles, including a maximum city speed of 25 miles per hour.
  • Encourage ride-sharing and carpooling through incentives and regulations. This would reduce the number of vehicles on the road.
  • Require data-sharing by automated vehicles. Automated vehicles will gather substantial amounts of data. Sharing this data with cities and other stakeholders will permit a “data-driven” approach to transportation, accidents, and congestion.

As the representatives for economic centers across the country, NACTO also has a concern for the impact on transportation funding, which often comes from fuel taxes and other vehicles fees. NACTO is considering alternative sources of funding as automated vehicles may change the base of that funding. Overall, it remains to be seen how automated vehicles could impact commutes in dense, urban areas like many of those that are part of NACTO.