On January 21st, a working group composed of the federal and provincial Ministers of Transportation, co-chaired by Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation and Transport Canada, met under the aegis of the Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety (the Council). The Council tabled the Automated and Connected Vehicles Policy Framework for Canada (the Framework) which sets out guiding principles for public policies related to the safe testing and deployment of automated vehicles (AVs). Broadly, the Framework highlights three policy priorities: safety; collaborative and secure exchanges of data; and alignment of regulation and policy. Each of these three elements are summarized below:
- Safety of CAVs (Connected and Automated Vehicles) provides the necessary groundwork for the public acceptance of CAVs generally and increased testing and deployment. The Framework calls on all levels of government to develop standards, policies and regulations that facilitate the extensive testing and safe introduction of CAVs. In particular, the Council highlights the need to ensure CAVs function well in extreme conditions, including extreme weather, nearby unexpected construction and cyber-attacks.
- Collaborative and secure exchanging and sharing of data between government, academics and industry is critical to advance evidence-based CAV policies. This will speed up and improve the quality of developing CAV laws and regulations, as well as contributing to technological innovation and academic research. The privacy and security concerns relating to AVs remains a concern that should be addressed by governments. The availability of objective information regarding the capabilities and limitations of AVs remains a priority as testing and deployment increase. Governments and the public should be made aware of the uncertainties and the risks/benefits of AVs.
- Alignment of regulation and policy will promote innovation, testing and deployment, rather than continuing with a patchwork across jurisdictions. The Framework calls on governments to start including AVs as part of their digital and physical infrastructure planning in alignment with other provinces, territories, and nations. International alignment with nations such as the United States, especially in light of the highly integrated nature of the North American transportation sector, is to be pursued.
The Framework articulates an aspirational vision for the positive ways in which CAVs could transform Canada. To get there, governments, industry and academics will need to share information, educate the public and work together to realize the social, economic and safety gains offered by this new technology.