PHMSA looks at implications of automated vehicles transporting hazmat

Stakeholders have until May 7th to offer input

Posted March 26, 2018

The development and potential use of automated driving systems in the transportation of hazardous materials has prompted the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to solicit feedback from stakeholders.

PHMSA requests comments on the implications of the development, testing, and integration of automated technologies for surface modes (i.e., highway and rail) on both the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) and the general transport of hazardous materials.

11 areas identified for input

The agency is asking stakeholders to address the following 11 questions in its information request:

  1. What are the safety, regulatory, and policy implications of the design, testing, and integration of surface automated vehicles on the requirements in the HMR? Please include any potential solutions PHMSA should consider.
  2. What are potential regulatory incompatibilities between the HMR and a future surface transportation system that incorporates automated vehicles? Specific HMR areas could include but are not limited to:
    • Emergency response information and hazard communication
    • Packaging and handling requirements, including pre-transportation functions
    • Incident response and reporting
    • Safety and security plans (e.g., en route security)
    • Modal requirements (e.g., highway and rail)
  3. Are there specific HMR requirements that would need modifications to become performance-based standards that can accommodate an automated vehicle operating in a surface transportation system?
  4. What automated surface transportation technologies are under development that are expected to be relevant to the safe transport of hazardous materials, and how might they be used in a surface transportation system?
  5. Under what circumstances do freight operators envision the transportation of hazardous materials in commerce using surface automated vehicles within the next 10 years?
    • To what extent do the HMR restrict the use of surface automated vehicles in the transportation of hazardous materials in non-bulk packaging in parcel delivery and less-than-truckload freight shipments by commercial motor vehicles?
    • To what extent do the HMR restrict the use of surface automated vehicles in the transportation of hazardous materials in bulk packaging by rail and commercial motor vehicles?
  6. What issues do automated technologies raise in hazardous materials surface transportation that are not present for human drivers or operators that PHMSA should address?
  7. Do HMR requirements that relate to the operation of surface automated vehicles carrying hazardous materials present different challenges than those that relate to ancillary tasks, such as inspections and packaging requirements?
  8. What solutions could PHMSA consider to address potential future regulatory incompatibilities between the HMR and surface automated vehicle technologies?
  9. What should PHMSA consider when reviewing applications for special permits seeking regulatory flexibility to allow for the transport of hazardous materials using automated technologies for surface modes?
  10. When considering long-term solutions to challenges the HMR may present to the development, testing, and integration of surface automated vehicles, what information and other factors should PHMSA consider?
  11. What should PHMSA consider when developing future policy, guidance, and regulations for the safe transportation of hazardous materials in surface transportation systems?

Submitting comments

Comments for Doc No: 2018-05785 must be received by on or before May 7, 2018. Comments received after that date will be considered to the extent practicable. To learn more on submitting comments, visit the Federal eRulemaking Portal.


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