Legal Problems Arising Out of Highway Programs. Topic 26-03. Multistate Coordination and Harmonization for AV Legislation

More than two-thirds of states have enacted automated vehicle (AV) legislation, an executive order regarding AVs, or with both. AV laws and regulations may differ with respect to licensing, registration, operator requirements, equipment, insurance, platooning, cell phone use, crash reporting, passenger restrictions (e.g., school buses), and operational restrictions (e.g., weather), among other items. The American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) plays a crucial role in the development of highway standards that transition into federal and state law. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) plays a crucial role in setting safety standards for AVs. Conversely, there are no federal laws regarding vehicle title and registration. The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) has guidelines for the safe testing and deployment of AVs that are voluntary and provide recommendations for state law enactments in general rather than specific terms. Differences in state AV laws can lead to friction in state border crossings and may negatively impact transportation safety, how companies deploy, and interstate commerce. Without a consistent deployment framework, AV technology will not be achieved nationwide. U.S. DOT’s Automated Vehicles 3.0: Preparing for the Future of Transportation, Automated Vehicles 4.0: Ensuring American Leadership in Automated Vehicle Technologies, and Automated Vehicles Comprehensive Plan recognized the need for modernizing AV regulations and promoting “regulatory consistency among state, local, tribal and territorial, and international laws and regulations so that AVs can operate seamlessly nationwide and internationally.” The objective of this research is to produce a legal research digest that identifies the legal issues and barriers that exist for the national harmonization of state AV laws. This research should focus on AV deployment rather than testing. Deployment is the operation of a vehicle on public roads by members of the public who are not employees, contractors, or designees of a manufacturer or other testing entity. This research should also focus on the deployment of Level 3 (Conditional Automation), Level 4 (High Automation), and Level 5 (Full Automation) AV as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International with special consideration to the laws and regulations that need to be harmonized to better encourage seamless national deployment and operations of highly automated vehicles.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $100000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-06, Topic 26-03

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

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

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

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

    Federal Highway Administration

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

    Chisholm-Smith, Gwen

  • Start Date: 20211206
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01784999
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-06, Topic 26-03
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: Oct 19 2021 12:53PM