PREPARE TO PLATOON: More States Race To Embrace Platooning Vehicles
Little Rock, Arkansas – Platooning is an emerging technology that connects the operating systems of vehicles including steering, speeding and braking. Following vehicles mimic the operations of the lead vehicle and proponents say it will increase safety and reduce fuel consumption by reducing aerodynamic drag on the following vehicles.
Critics argue platooning is an unproven technology that could pose more dangers to the motoring public than benefits. How will the technology react to changing weather-related conditions, safely interact with motorists in different driving scenarios, and what about potential technical malfunctions, critics have asked.
In a report last year, respected engineer Richard Dunne warned the consequences of platooning could be devastating on roads and bridges especially. He said, “How do loads impact the physical plant? The deck, beams, joints, pavement are all stressed by heavy vehicles moving closer and closer together.”
Even still, an increasing number of state lawmakers seem to be in a race to approve the deployment of platooning technology on state roads and bridges.
More States Embracing Platooning
Pennsylvania is the latest state to take legislation action to pave the way for connected trucks and vehicles on state roads. HB1958 now allows for platooning of up to three vehicles while working on limited-access highways or interstates. The new law also calls for the allowance of driverless trucks to be used in work zones in hopes of creating greater safety for construction workers.
Pennsylvania is added to the growing list of states to take action on the allowance of platooning this year. Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin each made rule changes granting exemptions to connected trucks from following distances rules for large vehicles.
More than a dozen states have taken legislative action on platooning just in the last few years. Lawmakers in states like Iowa and California have publicly expressed wanting to be states where they lead the way in platooning testing and deployment.
Michigan Is Next
Lawmakers in Michigan are also expected to approve new legislation which would exempt platooning vehicles on highways from abiding by the state’s following distance regulations. HB5749 has passed in the house and now awaits a Senate floor vote before it would move to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk for approval.
“The Michigan vehicle code must stay current so that Michigan roadways can continue to embrace these new technologies,” stated Rep. Michael Webber, R-Rochester Hills. “With the advancement of autonomous vehicles on Michigan roads we need to update the law to reflect these changes.”
Featured image shared courtesy of the USDOT.