Are Cities Prepared for Autonomous Vehicles? Planning for Technological Change by U.S. Local Governments

Local governments play a major role in policymaking related to various aspects of urban transportation, from managing the curb to parking requirements. In the context of the rollout of autonomous vehicles (AVs), their policies could significantly impact how this new technology is used. In order to determine the degree to which municipal governments in the U.S. are preparing for AVs, the authors engage two empirical approaches: a review of the comprehensive plans of the country’s largest cities, and an online survey of top transportation and planning officials that produced a representative sample of cities larger than 100,000 people. First, the authors find that few local governments have conducted significant planning for AVs and few officials believe they have adequately assigned responsibility to staff to do so. Second, the authors show that several demographic, ideological, and bureaucratic features of these cities influence whether or not they are planning for this new technology. These findings affirm previous research related to metropolitan areas’ planning for AVs, and support the scholarship on policy innovations’ insight on the impact of local characteristics, such as staff motivation, limited obstacles, and adequate resources, on policy adoption. The authors demonstrate that these issues come to play early in the policymaking process—even before the characteristics of the thing being regulated have been fully defined.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: References;
  • Pagination: 6p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01697807
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 19-02430
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Dec 7 2018 9:38AM