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The US Department of Transportation (DOT) is 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.
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’s advocacy team has been invited to present at AV workshops and contribute to policy papers and other publications, including: