Assessing the Impacts of Automated Driving Systems (ADS) on the Future of Transportation Safety

Transportation agencies are recognizing that past practices of designing what is considered a safe traveling environment is changing as the vehicle fleet evolves to more connected, autonomous, and automated driving. While it is understood that impacts are relatively minor today, the implications on the design and operational criteria of tomorrow will be substantial. Research is needed to understand and plan for these impacts and to consider how they could change the way we plan, design, and operate to address the contributing factors for crashes on our facilities. Federal, state, and local public agencies recognize that there are challenges with maintaining the state of good repair on many assets with existing resources. Failure to adequately do so may have an impact on roadway safety and operations. Federal, state, and local public agencies will need to effectively manage resources given the opportunities that ADS brings, while maintaining safety and mobility throughout its adoption. In the past, design, operational, and other safety criteria were developed in a manner that could now be argued as overcompensation for poor driver behavior. This occurred as a means to increase safety for the legacy vehicle fleet and occupants because few in-vehicle crash avoidance and restraint systems existed to account for driver errors, risky behaviors, and human factors. Since vehicles are increasingly being designed and operated to account for these factors, how we plan for, develop, and operate transportation facilities also will need to change. It is anticipated that ADS will address a significant percentage of the human factors contributing to crashes. Therefore, agencies will be able to prioritize their resources to address the remaining factors that contribute to crashes including those factors not addressed by ADS. These resources may include engineering, enforcement, education, and emergency response. In this sense, practical design and operations should incorporate how future changes will benefit safety performance and should consider necessary design criteria modifications to maximize the potential benefits of this technology. Research is needed to evaluate the impacts of ADS on transportation safety, to include roadway design, operations, planning, and behavioral factors. It is expected this effort will require input from the automotive industry; federal, state and local public agencies; and companies involved in the development of ADS. The primary focus of this research will be on transportation infrastructure design and operational aspects resulting from the deployment of ADS that will have an impact on safety and investments over time. The objective of this research is to develop a framework for practitioners (e.g., transportation infrastructure owners, safety agencies, road users, and ADS manufacturers) to use in current and future safety planning, design, operational decisions, and investments on multimodal infrastructure. The framework should include processes and procedures to facilitate the safe, phased integration of ADS under different contexts, and address timeframes, risks, and opportunities for the safe integration of ADS. At a minimum, the research should also address the following topics: (1) Standards and practices for roadway planning, design, and operations; (2) Human factors and road user interactions; (3) Road user behavior; (4) Impacts of mixed modes, vehicle fleets, and different levels of autonomy; (5) Impacts on law enforcement and emergency response; (6) Education (e.g., for operators, police, vehicle dealers); (7) Data (e.g., safety data, reporting, key performance indicators needed); (8) Digital infrastructure (e.g., cybersecurity, mapping, redundancy); (9) Communication between legacy and ADS vehicles (of various levels) and the infrastructure; and (10) Legislative and regulatory issues.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $764997
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 17-91

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Retting, Richard

  • Performing Organizations:

    Booz, Allen and Hamilton, Incorporated

    8283 Greensboro Drive
    McLean, VA  United States  22102
  • Principal Investigators:

    Sundararajan, Sudharson

  • Start Date: 20190524
  • Expected Completion Date: 20211123
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01672552
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 17-91
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: Jun 18 2018 3:03PM