NLC releases new autonomous vehicle guide to help cities prepare for a driverless future


The National League of Cities (NLC), a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages across the USA, has released a new guide to help cities prepare for the roll out of autonomous vehicles (AV) in their communities.

The new NLC report, Autonomous Vehicles: A Policy Preparation Guide, provides an overview of AV technology and answers frequently asked questions around AV manufacturers, public policy considerations, municipal coordination, and infrastructure investment. The guide is intended to act as a city-focused complement to the US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) 2016 Federal Automated Vehicles Policy, which focuses heavily on the role of the federal and state governments in AV policy. The NLC is aware that its new policy guide comes at an important time for city leaders, who are currently planning for the future of transportation and mobility, and the widespread deployment of ‘disruptive technologies’.

In addition to outlining answers to pressing questions, the report recommends:

• Cities should start planning now, because AVs are on the streets today;

• Policy development must have the right people at the table, including city staff in charge of planning and transportation, procurement, IT, and law enforcement;

• Cities should track and monitor federal and state developments, and make sure their interests are voiced;

• Cities should begin planning infrastructure needs, and building data and computing capacity to take advantage of an automated mobility future.

In order to model what is needed for future policies on AV technology, the NLC states that it will revisit and update the guide on a regular basis.

“Autonomous vehicles are rolling out on city streets across the country at a rapid pace; much faster than anticipated just a few years ago,” said Brooks Rainwater, senior executive and director of the Center for City Solutions at the NLC.

“While state and federal entities have always played a role in regulating transportation, cities are where this new technology is being deployed now. For self-driving vehicles to be truly successful and reach their full potential, cities must work in partnership with their counterparts at the state and federal level to ensure travel within, and between, states is seamless. Ultimately, cities play a critical role in maximizing the benefits of autonomous vehicle technology, and are in the unique position of understanding how and where these new technologies will work best.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).