ITS America Driverless Car Report

The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) report on Driverless Cars and Accessibility

By PVA National Staff

The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) released its April 2019 report on Driverless Cars and Accessibility: Designing the Future of Transportation for People with Disabilities. See full report here.

The report summarizes current challenges that people with disabilities face and speculates as to which requirements might be necessary for a “fully automated” and “fully accessible” vehicle to indeed be accessible. The report focuses on issues affecting people with disabilities who are deaf and hard of hearing, blind and low vision, and those who are mobility Impaired.

Representatives from the mobility impaired community have expressed the importance of considering the following when designing automated vehicle systems:

  • Human-machine interface of the vehicle – specifically, that the interface can accommodate users who experience a range of physical challenges, such as difficulties associated with fine motor control or speech.
  • Challenges associated with inaccessible routes (e.g. street furniture, streetscape) or obstacles on the way to/from vehicle (including navigating through traffic as a pedestrian).
  • Independent and safe ingress and egress methods.
  • Independent and safe use of occupant protection and mobility aid device restraint systems (e.g. Wheelchair Tie-down and Occupant Restraint Systems).

There are still gaps in accessibility and plenty of lessons learned from several decades of experience with ADA in transportation. Therefore, new vehicle designs that incorporate fully automated driving systems, particularly those supporting demand-responsive passenger service (to include shared-use ride-hailing, micro-transit, and para-transit services), represent a unique opportunity to reexamine the needs of people with disabilities.


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