Reform State Vehicle Codes to Enable Automated Vehicle Platooning

Today, CEI released my report, Authorizing Automated Vehicle Platooning: A Guide for State Legislators, 2017 Edition. This is an update of the 2016 edition. Platooning refers to a specific application of vehicle automation technology that allows vehicles to travel safely in close formation on the highways. A video below provides a fun overview of what this is:

In the future, automated platooning will allow roadway capacity enhancements without costly physical roadway expansions. Right now, interest in an early application has come from the trucking industry, which is interested in platooning small numbers of trucks primarily for the purpose of saving fuel due to reduced drag. These will not be self-driving trucks, but vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology will allow trucks to coordinate speed and emergency braking to maintain formation. Peloton is one company promoting this technology and provides a helpful video explanation here:

But state laws and regulations stand in the way. Currently, only six states—Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas—authorize some form of platooning. This is because state motor vehicle codes generally prohibit these operations under their “following too closely” anti-tailgating rules. The solution is quite simple: amend state codes to provide explicit platooning exemptions, as the six states have done so far.

The report provides each U.S. jurisdiction with two suggested amendments: the “strong amendment” and the “weak amendment.” The strong amendment is self-executing and provides the cleanest exemption. In contrast, the weak amendment requires administrative implementation. To date, just Georgia has adopted a version of the strong amendment. The others require varying degrees of regulatory oversight.

Read the full report here and see where your state stands on automated vehicle platooning.