While over 30 states have passed legislation regarding AVs, most states have taken a relatively hands-off approach with their legislative and regulatory actions thus far. A few states have started to address AV accessibility for people with disabilities.
Maine, Michigan, Minnesota and the District of Columbia have directed task forces to study issues related to AV accessibility for people with disabilities.
Minnesota’s previous governor established an Advisory Council on Connected and Autonomous Vehicles. The council’s 2018 report contained a number of recommendations concerning people with disabilities, including one to consider allowing people with disabilities and others who may not have driver’s licenses the ability to use AVs. The council also suggested conducting pilot projects in areas with persons with disabilities, as well as soliciting public feedback on how to make the design of AVs more accessible for people with disabilities.
Michigan’s Future of Mobility Council, which was created by the legislature in 2016 (SB 995), makes statewide policy recommendations and encourages innovation relating to AVs. It recommends the disability community be involved in the debate surrounding AVs and that pilot programs be developed with the goal of improving mobility for persons with disabilities.
In Washington, D.C., the city council enacted legislation in 2018 (B22-0901) requiring a study on the effects and impacts of AVs, including on the district’s disability community.
And in Maine, the legislature created a Commission on Autonomous Vehicles in 2018 (HP 1204) to coordinate efforts among state agencies. It directed that a representative of the Office of Aging and Disability Services within the Department of Health and Human Service serve on the commission.
Nevada legislation in 2017 (AB 69) regulated autonomous TNCs and prohibited any additional charge for providing transportation to a person because of a physical disability. A policy prohibiting discrimination due to a disability is also required. The law also mandates services to enable passengers to indicate they require a wheelchair-accessible vehicle. If the TNC cannot provide such services, it must direct the passenger to an alternative provider that can, if available.
New Hampshire SB 216 in 2019 directed the New Hampshire Transportation Council to solicit input from representatives of the disability community regarding, among other things, the testing and deployment of automated vehicles.
Some states, such as Colorado, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, have begun to explicitly allow those without a driver’s license to operate an AV, which could accelerate adoption of autonomous mobility by people with disabilities.