Working Group Tackles How Maryland Must Prepare for Self-Driving Cars

The Autonomous Vehicle Working Group held its first meeting on December 17, 2015. The group was formed by the Maryland Department of the Transportation (MDOT) to identify state and local issues that must be addressed as Maryland prepares for the introduction of partially or fully autonomous vehicles and connected vehicles. Partially autonomous vehicles are already in use today and fully autonomous vehicles are under development by a wide range of automotive and technology companies.

Various state agencies are represented on the Working Group, including: MDOT, State Highway Administration, Motor Vehicle Administration, Department of Aging, Department of Disabilities, and State Police. County attendees included Howard County Deputy Director and Bureau Chief of Environmental Services Mark DeLuca and MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp. Deluca is also President of the County Engineers Association of Maryland (a MACo affiliate). Several other public safety and transportation-oriented entities were also present, including the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association and AAA of Maryland.

The Working Group heard an initial presentation about the current status of autonomous and connected vehicles nationwide from American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) Vehicle Programs Director Cathie Curtis. Curtis explained that autonomous vehicles include a range of technologies and capabilities, from those that provide additional warnings or limited assistance to drivers (such as unintentional lane changing warnings or computer-driven traction control) all the way to the fully self-driving vehicles that require no human oversight. Connected vehicles are those that are plugged into the local infrastructure grid and can receive from and/or provide information to that grid. For example, a connected vehicle could alert a driver when an ambulance is approaching from behind or that a truck is to too tall to fit under an upcoming overpass. Connected vehicles can also be autonomous or non-autonomous as well.

The Working Group also identified a host of issues that it will study and provide recommendations on relating to autonomous and connected vehicles, including:

  • Required changes in law, regulation and policy
  • State and local roadway infrastructure
  • Highway safety
  • Information technology infrastructure and security
  • Legal and liability implications for the State, local governments, and consumers
  • Law enforcement issues
  • Environmental factors
  • Insurance implications
  • Vehicle definitions and standards
  • Driver licensing, training, and testing
  • Freight Hauling
  • Disabled, elderly, and minor drivers
  • Education of the public
  • Transit

The Working Group is planning on meeting again sometime in January or February. If you have further questions about county issues related to the Working Group, please contact Les Knapp at 410.269.0043 or