“Safety Must Be at the Forefront of Planning” – TMACC Hosts Luncheon on Autonomous Vehicles

On Friday, December 2nd the Transportation Management Association of Chester County hosted a Luncheon at the Chester Valley Golf Club to discuss the future of autonomous vehicles and their implementation.

As guest speakers, TMACC featured Dr. Alain Kornhauser, Princeton University’s Professor of Operations Research and Financial Engineering to discuss the positive impact autonomous vehicles will have on our community; and Roger Cohen, PennDOT’s Policy Director to provide the status of Pennsylvania’s policies on highly automated vehicles (HAVs).  Their main message throughout the discussion was that safety must be at the forefront of planning.

“In the world today, in terms of vehicle fatalities, it like a jumbo jet crashing every five days.” Said Cohen.

“People don’t want to drive their car anymore, they want to entertain themselves!” Dr. Kornhauser explained in his speech, “Driving is getting in the way of entertainment, so what do we do?  We continue to distract ourselves while putting other drivers at risk.”


Dr. Alain Kornhauser, Princeton University


Dr. Kornhauser’s argument was to encourage the creation of automated vehicles because they will make our world safer.  Instead of focusing on the implementation of autonomous vehicles, he spoke on the positive impact the technology will have once they are on roads.  “It is inevitable that we will implement smart driving technology, it is time to discuss what the impact of this new technology will be on the future.”

According to Dr. Kornhauser, the impact will be huge.  Not only does he believe it will reduce congestion, but it will also decrease fatalities by 50% by removing the major flaw in transportation systems: humans.  Today’s congestion will be a thing of the past because automated vehicles will be programmed to pick up multiple commuters in the area who are traveling to the same destination.  “Mobility will be delivered like a service in the future.” Stated Dr. Kornhauser, “You will choose when you need a vehicle and the car will come to you!  There will be no need to own your own vehicle.”


Roger Cohen, PennDOT

Roger Cohen discussed the importance of planning for autonomous vehicles.  “The future of transportation is automated.  It’s coming and we need to be prepared.” Said Cohen.  He stated that PennDOT’s main focus is on safety and infrastructure maintenance to accommodate for the new technology.  “Keeping the infrastructure in a state of good repair will be key.  Automated vehicles will not be able to operate at optimal c
apacity if the roads are not up to par.”

Just four days after the meeting, the State’s Autonomous Vehicles Testing Policy Task Force, co-chaired by Cohen, released its recommendations to PennDOT’s Secretary Leslie S. Richards for developing policies to oversee testing of highly automated vehicles (HAVs).  They will be holding an on-line public forum on December 12 from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM to review the policy.

The event had over 100 in attendance and was hosted at the Chester Valley Golf Club in Malvern.  To learn more about TMACC and its projects, visit www.tmacc.org.

Sponsors for the Fall Luncheon included: McMahon Associates, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, Burns Engineering, Traffic Planning & Design, Pennoni,  Saul Ewing, Gannett Fleming, AVE, and DVRPC.


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