Momentum: Issue #82

October 12, 2021

ITS America Releases Equity, Climate, Safety, and Infrastructure Principles for Automated and Autonomous Mobility

ITS America officially released Equity, Climate, Safety, and Infrastructure Principles for Automated and Autonomous Mobility (the AV principles), during a webinar in its blueprint series held on September 28, “Reimagining America’s Transportation System and Outcomes through Automated Vehicle Technology.”

Led by ITS America Automated Vehicle Standing Advisory Committee Chair Nat Beuse, Vice President of Safety, Aurora, the webinar included remarks by Carlos Monje, Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy, U.S. Department of Transportation, and a panel of ITS America members: Kevin Biesty, Deputy Director for Policy, Arizona Department of Transportation; Dan Corey, Vice-President & Deputy National ITS Program Leader for ITS, Connected/Automated Vehicles and Emerging Technologies, AECOM; Seleta Reynolds, General Manager, Los Angeles Department of Transportation; Kevin Thibault, Secretary, Florida Department of Transportation; and Desi Ujkashevic, Global Director of Global Automotive Safety Engineering Office, Ford Motor Company.  

The panel discussed how cities, states, AV developers, and infrastructure leaders are incorporating many of the AV principles into regulation, vehicle design, deployment, and infrastructure as the technology moves from expanded pilots to full deployment of AV fleets.

ITS America’s 92-member Automated Vehicle Standing Advisory Committee developed the AV principles. During the webinar, Beuse recognized the Minnesota Department of Transportation, State Farm, Nuro, Feonix-Mobility Rising, General Motors, Washington State Department of Transportation, Audi of America, and Texas Department of Transportation for leading the task forces; ITS America staff Ron Thaniel (Vice President of Public Policy and Legislative Affairs) and Brenna Rivett (Policy Programs Manager) for overseeing policy development; and Greg Winfree, Director of Texas A&M’s Transportation Technology Institute, as the standing committee’s vice chair.

“Twenty-one years into the 21st century, AVs present us with a generational opportunity to reimagine our transportation system and transform outcomes,” said Beuse. “While ITS America calls on Congress and the Biden administration to put in place an overdue federal framework for highly automated vehicles, the debates we are having in Washington do not necessarily reflect what is happening on the ground where developers are working with city and state regulators to move from expanded pilots to full commercial deployment of AVs. There are hundreds of vehicles being tested on public roadways across the country.”

As a result, ITS America developed principles to inform federal regulations and as a guide for state and city leaders and regulators for the safe deployment of AVs that contribute to sustainable, economically vibrant, and equitable communities. The principles include:

  • Improving transportation safety;
  • Expanding transportation equity;
  • Accessible transportation;
  • Sustainable transportation;
  • Advancing electrification goals; and
  • Modernizing America’s infrastructure.  

Improving transportation safety includes enacting a federal regulatory framework to accelerate and guide AVs’ continued safe development and deployment, ensuring compliance with state and local traffic laws and rules, comprehensive public education, resources for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and shared AV terminology with precise definitions that the public can understand.

Expanding transportation equity includes conducting or encouraging pilot programs and research activities in Areas of Persistent Poverty within state and local AV testing and deployment sites, and integration of AVs with other pilot programs focused on enhancing equity, such as programs that provide subsidized access to transit and transit-integrated Mobility on Demand and Mobility-as-a-Service programs, and Universal Basic Mobility.

Accessible transportation is focused on accelerating the modernization of federal regulations to allow for the implementation of new vehicle designs, technologies, and capabilities that improve accessibility and equitable access while complying with state and local traffic laws and rules, including vehicles that are designed from the ground up for purposes such as accessible personal transportation, connections to mass transit, and facilitating deliveries. It also includes a focus on accessible and barrier-free universal design practices for AVs and infrastructure.

Sustainable transportation principles speak to the fact that alternative and sustainable fuels policies should support and supplement, not replace, high-efficiency modes of transportation such as public transit. They also call for AV policies that will prioritize higher occupancy trips and modes made by AVs that will reduce vehicle miles traveled, increase vehicle utilization rates, and decrease the need for vehicle parking.

The advancing electrification goals support eliminating statutory obstacles to electric vehicle charging on federal-aid highway rights of way, developing recyclable and environmentally friendly battery technology, and tax credits to support zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) and future AV/ZEVs that are shared use.

Modernizing America’s infrastructure principles urge increased digital infrastructure investments, including broadband, 5G, and intelligent transportation systems, to support human drivers and AVs.

If you missed the webinar, you can see it here. For more information on the principles and ITS America’s more extensive AV policy, please get in touch with Ron Thaniel at