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Establishing Guidelines for Incorporating Automated Vehicle Technology into Licensing Policy


Motor vehicle crashes represent a significant public health problem, with both older and young drivers exhibiting elevated exposure-based fatal crash rates in the United States (US). The increased crash and injury risk of older drivers has been attributed to age-related declines in abilities important for driving, as well increased fragility and frailty. An important societal approach for managing older driver safety is the use of driver licensing policies such as restricted driver licensing; that is, the imposition of restrictions on drivers’ licenses that oblige them to drive only under certain conditions or use specified equipment as a condition for maintaining driving privileges. Recent trends in advanced vehicle technologies, and in particular, the progression to higher levels of automated vehicle systems, will require licensing agencies to adapt and possibly rethink their approaches to licensing policy (OECD, 2015). With regard to restricted licensing, the introduction of automated vehicle technology may expand the potential use of specified restrictions as a means of extending driving privileges to a greater number of drivers with disabilities or functional limitations that can affect safe driving. However, decisions must be motivated by evidence-based criteria that can be applied by licensing agency officials who are not expert in the assessment of functional deficits. This presents an opportunity for early establishment of guidelines for incorporating automated vehicle system technology into licensing policy that could be used across jurisdictions.


Develop guidelines that licensing officials can apply to determine if and what automated vehicle technologies are necessary to grant/maintain an individual’s driving privilege and how to best move toward appropriate changes in policy.


Addressing the implications of automated vehicle technologies for restricted licensing early in the adoption process and using uniform guidelines provides an opportunity to proactively forge more consistent and rational licensing policies that can enhance the safety of older drivers.

Related Research:

While there has been increasing research attention to advanced vehicle technologies, much of it focuses on the engineering aspects of the technology, and more recently behavioral implications. However, the policy aspects, particularly with regard to older drivers, have received limited attention.

  1. Conduct a synthesis of the literature to identify automated vehicle technologies that could be incorporated into licensing policies on driver restrictions and assess their suitability and potential effectiveness.

  2. Conduct a series of group and individual structured interviews with technology developers and licensing officials to explore relevant issues such as safety benefits of incorporating advanced vehicle technologies into restricted licensing policies, as well as barriers to and facilitators of such a move, the resources needed, and the process that would need to be undertaken. Results of the interviews will be used to inform development of a survey of a sample of licensing officials across the nation.

  3. Conduct a telephone survey with a sample of licensing officials to identify barriers and facilitators to changing policies with regard to restricted driver licenses.

  4. Develop set of preliminary guidelines for licensing officials to apply as they think about extending restricted licensing policies to take into account advanced vehicle technologies.


Licensing agencies from across the US would be candidates for this research.


The proposed research is timely and relevant. As the population ages, there will be increasing numbers of older drivers on the road. There is a tremendous opportunity to use the technologies currently available and under development to help older drivers stay driving safely for as long as they can do so.

Sponsoring Committee:ANB60, Safe Mobility of Older Persons
Research Period:12 - 24 months
Research Priority:High
Date Posted:09/13/2015
Date Modified:11/13/2015
Index Terms:Crash rates, Fatalities, Guidelines, Driver licensing, Restricted driver licenses, Automotive computers, Driver support systems, Mobile computing, Aged drivers, Recently qualified drivers,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Safety and Human Factors
Vehicles and Equipment

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