NHTSA’s comment period about automated vehicles ends July 29

July 12, 2019

Mark Schremmer


The comment period regarding the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s advance notice of proposed rulemaking on automated vehicles ends July 29.

In May, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and NHTSA issued advance notices of proposed rulemaking on the removal of “unnecessary regulatory barriers” to the introduction of automated vehicles in the United States.

NHTSA’s notice seeks public comment on the near- and long-term challenges of testing and verifying compliance for automated driving systems vehicles that lack traditional manual controls necessary for a human driver to maneuver the vehicle. The notice includes 33 questions. Comments may be submitted until July 29 using docket number NHTSA-2019-0036.

Meanwhile, comments regarding FMCSA’s notice can be submitted until Aug. 26.

“FMCSA requests public comment about Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations that may need to be amended, revised or eliminated to facilitate the safe introduction of automated driving systems equipped commercial motor vehicles onto our nation’s roadways,” the advance notice of proposed rulemaking stated. “In approaching the task of adapting its regulations to accommodate automated vehicle technologies, FMCSA is considering changes to its rules to account for significant difference between human operators and automated driving systems.”

The agency considers there to be five levels of automation from some driver assistance (Level 1) to full driving automation (Level 5).

FMCSA’s notice includes about 40 questions regarding commercial driver’s license endorsements, hours-of-service rules, medical qualifications, distracted driving, safe driving, repairs and maintenance, roadside inspections, cybersecurity and confidentiality.

Some of the questions include:

  • Should FMCSA consider amending or augmenting the definition of “driver” and/or “operator” or define a term such as “ADS driver” to reduce the potential for misinterpretation of the requirements?
  • Should a CDL endorsement be required of individuals operating an automated driving system-equipped commercial motor vehicle?
  • Should hours-of-service rule changes be considers if automated driving systems technology performs all of the driving tasks while a human is off-duty or in the sleeper berth, or physically remote from the commercial motor vehicle?
  • Should some of the physical qualification rules be eliminated or made less stringent for humans remotely monitoring or potentially controlling automated driving systems-equipped commercial motor vehicles?
  • How should the prohibition against districted driving apply to onboard operators responsible for taking control of the commercial motor vehicle under certain situations and to remote operators with similar responsibilities?
  • What kind of routine or scheduled inspections should be performed and what types of automated driving systems-related maintenance records should be required?
  • Should motor carriers be required to notify FMCSA that they are operating Level 4 or 5 automated driving systems-equipped commercial motor vehicles?
  • What types of safety and cargo security risks may be introduced with the integration of automated driving systems-equipped commercial motor vehicles?
  • To what extent do automated driving systems developers believe performance data should be considered proprietary and withheld from the public?

In March, OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer told a panel in Washington, D.C. that America isn’t ready for autonomous trucking.

“I don’t think it’s going to happen tomorrow, and I don’t see how it could realistically happen without every aspect of vehicles – not just trucks but every other vehicle on the road – and the roadway system itself (being automated),” Spencer said.

Pilot Flying J
Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.