Professor Susan Shaheen is a contributor to Streetsblog's recent post on the top policy strategies to heighten societal benefits and reduce adverse risks in deploying automated vehicles (AVs) across California. With a team of researchers at UC Davis and UC Berkeley, Shaheen proposes a menu of options that lawmakers can refine to set the state on a path toward AV safety, social equity, mobility, and sustainability. Below is their list of the top ten strategies to consider when developing AV policy in California (see the full report for more detail).
1) Support AVs that complement public transit.
2) Discourage personal ownership of AVs and low- and no-occupancy AV travel.
3) Encourage AVs to be deployed as zero emission vehicles (ZEVs).
4) Ensure AVs are available to rural and suburban communities that can benefit.
5) Address safety and security for passengers inside AVs as well as for communities that host them.
6) Establish strategies to mitigate job loss and workforce adaptation associated with vehicle automation.
7) Encourage seamless travel connections between AVs and public transportation.
8) Hasten adoption of AV passenger service for people with disabilities.
9) Align data collection across agencies to achieve public objectives.
10) Evolve requirements for AV insurance and liability.
In developing this list, the team consulted with local, regional, and state government representatives, as well as advocates and industry leaders. A next step is to identify the near-term strategies that cities need now, and which issues will require more time to observe as the industry evolves and grows.
The State of California just rejected another bill – S.B. 66 (the second attempt after a similar bill, S.B. 59, failed in 2020) which would have created a California Council on the Future of Transportation to bring many stakeholders together, including the auto industry, government, and labor, among other groups. While the bill failed, several agencies within California have the authority to convene such a council or advisory group without legislative approval, but they have been slow to act. Dozens of such advisory groups exist in other states, but California has been unable to agree on the need to find common ground.
The team's research makes clear that more discussion is necessary, and given the industry’s slower than expected pace, California now has the time to carefully assemble the stakeholders necessary to chart a pathway for AV safety, equity, mobility, and sustainability.