PennDOT tightens AV testing oversight requirements

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The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has issued a document providing guidance for increased oversight for the testing of AVs. Testing must now be reported to the state DOT and safety drivers must have additional qualifications to perform testing on their own.

The state is hoping to enact legislation for HAVs (highly automated vehicles), but until then, it requires testers to submit a ‘notice of testing’ on the PennDOT website. Such a notice will require details of the company, the testers and the vehicles, in addition to the counties where testing is expected to take place, and acknowledgement of insurance and that the vehicle has been tested under controlled conditions and meets certain requirements.

One major change is that for testing on roadways with speed limits of more than 25mph (40km/h), there must either be a secondary safety associate present in the vehicle, or the single driver must present evidence of an enhanced performance driver training plan for department review.

When the notice of testing and the driver’s qualifications are approved by PennDOT, the tester will receive an ‘authorization letter’ that is valid for a year, with annual renewals. If there are material changes in the tester’s program or circumstances such that the original submission no longer adequately describes the testing program, the tester will have to notify the department. PennDOT will also be able to revoke permission to test in certain cases.

In addition, for a better understanding of AV testing in the state, data from all testers will be collected through a semi-annual submission using an online form.

Testers will have to report approximate miles travelled, the type of roadways and the counties where the testing was performed, as well as the approximate number ofemployees involved.

The full document with all details of the oversight guidance can be found on PennDOT’s website.

By Illya Verpraet

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