WASHINGTON, DC – In October, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a new federal Advisory Committee on Automation in Transportation. The primary purpose of the Committee, known as ACAT, will be to assess DoT’s current research, policy and regulatory abilities to advance the safe and effective use of autonomous vehicles. More specifically, the Committee will gather information and present recommendations to the Secretary on automated transit vehicle technologies, and other advanced technology deployment in the area of surface transportation.
Ric Mellon, an active member of both the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) and ABATE of Wisconsin, has been nominated to serve on the Advisory Committee given his expertise in the area of motorcycle safety and information technology. Kirk ‘Hardtail’ Willard, President of the MRF, had this to say in his letter of endorsement, “[Ric] has a record of reliability in being able to speak to the impact that Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and autonomous vehicles will have on the almost 10 million registered motorcyclists on our nation’s roadways… Mellon can provide critical information, advice and recommendations to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation on the safety, societal, ethical and real-life impacts this emerging class of vehicles may impose on motorcyclists.”
Both federal and state lawmakers quickly followed suit drafting their own letters of recommendation for Mr. Mellon. Federal lawmaker Reid Ribble has drafted a letter of support along with Wisconsin State Senator Kathleen Vinehout. Senator Vinehout touted Mr. Mellon’s “depth of knowledge” and “leadership skills as Executive Director and Board Member of ABATE of Wisconsin”.
The MRF has been active in the ongoing discussions regarding autonomous vehicles and recently issued DoT guidelines. The organization is filing official comments with the agency by the November 21 deadline and also plans to participate in upcoming public meetings the Agency is holding on the issue. The MRF is focusing its comments around four key areas that may affect bikers; (1) the unique attributes of a motorcycle in relationship to autonomous vehicles, (2) the need for rigorous standards when it comes to cyber security, (3) the importance of establishing clear liability in future crashes involving driverless cars and lastly, (4) general concerns over the scope and enforceability of the recently issued DoT guidelines.
Nominations to the ACAT committee close this week and announcements of appointments should be determined in early 2017.