Securing America's Future Energy

SAFE Submits Comments on California DMV’s Proposed Revision to Autonomous Vehicle Testing Rules

Contact: Bridget Bartol | 202.461.2361 |

Washington, D.C.—Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), today submitted comments to the California Department of Motor Vehicles’ (DMV) revised proposal for rules governing autonomous vehicles (AVs).

“SAFE applauds the Department of Motor Vehicles’ (DMV) ongoing responsiveness to industry developments regarding autonomous vehicles (AVs) and comments on previous drafts of this proposed regulation,” said Amitai Bin-Nun, SAFE’s Vice President of Autonomous Vehicle and Mobility Innovation, in the submitted comments. “However, we note with concern the ban on the testing and deployment of medium- and heavy-duty AVs in the proposed regulation. Much of the regulatory focus for AVs, both in California and elsewhere, has been on the passenger vehicle segment. However, the trucking industry remains an integral part of the U.S. transportation system and should not be ignored. The sector is likely to be an early implementer of autonomous vehicle technology because of its interest in safety and fuel efficiency innovation and the more predictable and less complex driving environment presented by freight transportation as compared to urban roads. We urge California to swiftly update its framework to provide a pathway forward for the testing and deployment of highly autonomous trucks.”

SAFE’s comments focused on the following issues:

  1. Autonomous Vehicles present an opportunity to strengthen America’s energy security through technological innovation in the transportation sector that are expected to improve fuel efficiency and fuel diversity of the vehicle fleet in the long term.
  2. Trucking is a backbone of the U.S. economy, and freight movements are forecast to grow more than 40 percent by 2045, with energy and oil use set to rise by 20 percent over the next 25 years. Recent research from SAFE shows that the widespread use of platooning technologies could save up to 20 billion gallons of diesel fuel through 2050. In addition, tests on trucks using early advanced driver assistance systems showed fuel savings of over 3 percent. Higher levels of automation present the opportunity for even greater savings.
  3. Regulators have a critical role to play to create a landscape that ensures the industry has the opportunity to innovate in ways that will save lives, reduce costs and increase efficiency.

Currently 92 percent of the U.S. transportation system is powered by oil. Autonomous vehicles are expected to lower fuel consumption by improving vehicle efficiency through improved traffic flow and optimized routing, in addition to improving fuel choice and undermining oil’s monopoly as a transportation fuel by facilitating a shift towards advanced transportation fuels such as electricity and natural gas.

SAFE is working at the state and federal level to advocate for a unified, clear, and modern regulatory framework to enable the safe and expeditious deployment of automated cars and trucks on the nation’s roadways.

About Securing America’s Future Energy

Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) is an action-oriented, nonpartisan organization that aims to reduce America’s dependence on oil. Near-total dependence on petroleum in the transportation sector undermines the nation’s economic and national security, and constrains U.S. foreign policy. To combat these threats, SAFE advocates for expanded domestic production of U.S. oil and gas resources, continued improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency, and transportation sector innovations including electric vehicles, natural gas trucks, and autonomous vehicles. In 2006, SAFE joined with General P.X. Kelley (Ret.), 28th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, and Frederick W. Smith, Chairman, President, and CEO of FedEx Corporation, to form the Energy Security Leadership Council (ESLC), a group of business and former military leaders committed to reducing the United States’ dependence on oil. Today, the ESLC is co-chaired by Frederick W. Smith and General James T. Conway (Ret), 34th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.

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