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Profile: Washington Traffic Safety Commission

PAVE: What is the most important thing you’ve learned from your work with AVs?

One of the keys to educating people about the safety of AVs will be to provide the physical experience. People are fearful of things they don’t understand, and until they personally experience automation, many won’t be able to accept the possibility that it could make us safer on the road.

PAVE: How is Washington preparing for AVs? What steps have you already taken?

  • Washington’s governor signed an Executive Order in 2017 that allowed for self-certified companies to test automated vehicles on Washington roads.
  • The following year, our legislature created the Automated Vehicle Workgroup. This workgroup is comprised of state agency directors, legislators, advocacy groups, and private sector companies. It is supported by 7 subcommittees, each focusing on an area of interest: Safety, Equity, Licensing, Data Security, Liability, Workforce and Infrastructure.
  • In 2020, legislation increased insurance requirements on the companies testing in Washington, and additional reporting requirements will be in place beginning October 2021.
  • In our 2019 Strategic Highway Safety Plan, we added an entire chapter focused on Connected and Automated Vehicle Technology, which can be found at www.targetzero.com. View the chapter in its entirety here.
  • In our own agency, the WTSC is leading a project to develop a strategic communications plan, guiding our work to educate Washington residents about current vehicle automation, its benefits and limitations.

PAVE: What AV deployments/tests have taken place in your area?

  • Six companies are currently registered to test in Washington, and we believe there is some limited testing happening. The current list of registered companies can be found at: https://www.dol.wa.gov/vehicleregistration/autonomous-self-cert.html
  • In October 2021, AV companies testing on Washington roads will be required to notify local law enforcement where they are testing. They will also be required to report collisions and infractions their vehicles are invoiced in. This should provide more information on the extent of testing in Washington.

Excerpt from the 2019 Strategic Highway Safety Plan

Learn more about the Washington Traffic Safety Commission and how AVs fit into their Target Zero plan on their website or by following them on Twitter.

About the Public Sector Advisory Council: PAVE’s public sector partners help to guide PAVE on its mission of promoting fact-based public discussion about automated vehicles. Council members serve in a strictly advisory capacity, providing PAVE and its members with opinions and recommendations related to AV technology and its societal effects.