Safety measures and accessible features must be considered up front if autonomous vehicles are to increase transportation opportunities for seniors and people with disabilities.
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) is a Cabinet Department responsible for planning and supporting America’s land, air, and sea-based travel systems by developing, implementing, and enforcing federal regulations governing the use of America’s roads and highways, airports and air corridors, railways, and seaports. NMEDA’s advocacy team has been working with DOT and other agency officials and staff to emphasize the vital importance of current and future transportation systems being accessible to all travelers. Notably, DOT has recently demonstrated a commitment to supporting autonomous vehicle (AV) technologies that provide and expand access to safe, accessible, and independent mobility options for people with disabilities and older Americans.
- DOT Automated Vehicles Activities
- NMEDA Comment Regarding Autonomous Vehicles
- DOT Accessibility Commitment
- Access & Mobility for All Summit
Since 2017, both the House and Senate have drafted and introduced – but not yet passed – AV framework legislation. While there has generally been bipartisan support for a federal framework for testing AVs on public roads, Congressional hearings on the matter have revealed a significant divide: some lawmakers are focused on promoting innovation and U.S. leadership with regard to AVs while others are prioritizing safety and consumer rights over speed to market. State governments are adding another layer of complexity by introducing, debating, and/or passing AV legislation in the absence of federal guidance. NMEDA’s advocacy team continues to hold meetings and discussions with members of Congress to emphasize the importance of AV integration of accessibility features, particularly for wheelchair or other mobility device users. While discussion drafts have been circulated, an official AV safety and framework bill has yet to be introduced in either chamber.
NMEDA Presentations & Contributions
NMEDA’s advocacy team has been invited to present at AV workshops and contribute to policy papers and other publications, including:
- Volkswagen Group of America – Mobility-as-a-Service Workshop Presentation
- Mobility Management – “Before Cities Become Smart, They Must Become Accessible”
- Intelligent Transportation Society of America – “Designing the Future of Transportation for People with Disabilities”
- Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (now the Alliance for Automotive Innovation) – AVs and Increased Accessibility Workshop Presentation
- US Access Board – Inclusive Design of Autonomous Vehicles: A Public Dialogue