The National Academies

NCHRP 20-06/Topic 26-03 [RFP]

Multistate Coordination and Harmonization for AV Legislation
[ NCHRP 20-06 (Legal Problems Arising out of Highway Programs) ]

Posted Date: 10/14/2021

  Project Data
Funds: $100,000
Contract Time: 12 Months
Authorization to Begin Work: 4/1/2022 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Gwen Chisholm-Smith
   Phone: 202-334-3246
   Email: gsmith@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 12/3/2021
Fiscal Year: 2021

More than two-thirds of states have enacted automated vehicle (AV) legislation, an executive order regarding AVs, or with both. AV laws and regulations may differ with respect to licensing, registration, operator requirements, equipment, insurance, platooning, cell phone use, crash reporting, passenger restrictions (e.g., school buses), and operational restrictions (e.g., weather), among other items. The American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) plays a crucial role in the development of highway standards that transition into federal and state law. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) plays a crucial role in setting safety standards for AVs. Conversely, there are no federal laws regarding vehicle title and registration. The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) has guidelines for the safe testing and deployment of AVs that are voluntary and provide recommendations for state law enactments in general rather than specific terms. Differences in state AV laws can lead to friction in state border crossings and may negatively impact transportation safety, how companies deploy, and interstate commerce. Without a consistent deployment framework, AV technology will not be achieved nationwide.
U.S. DOT’s Automated Vehicles 3.0: Preparing for the Future of Transportation, Automated Vehicles 4.0: Ensuring American Leadership in Automated Vehicle Technologies, and Automated Vehicles Comprehensive Plan recognized the need for modernizing AV regulations and promoting “regulatory consistency among state, local, tribal and territorial, and international laws and regulations so that AVs can operate seamlessly nationwide and internationally.”
The objective of this research is to produce a legal research digest that identifies the legal issues and barriers that exist for the national harmonization of state AV laws. This research should focus on AV deployment rather than testing. Deployment is the operation of a vehicle on public roads by members of the public who are not employees, contractors, or designees of a manufacturer or other testing entity. This research should also focus on the deployment of Level 3 (Conditional Automation), Level 4 (High Automation), and Level 5 (Full Automation) AV as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International with special consideration to the laws and regulations that need to be harmonized to better encourage seamless national deployment and operations of highly automated vehicles. The research should include the following:
  • The role of the federal government in AV legislation with respect to deployment; in particular NHTSA, Surface Transportation Board, Federal Trade Commission, Federal Communications Commission, and Department of Homeland Security. The discussion should identify areas of exclusive jurisdiction as well as shared jurisdiction among the federal agencies and the states.

  • A review of AV legislation in all states and the District of Columbia to identify the differences among stations in the following research areas:
    • Vehicle registration
    • Vehicle licensing
    • Licensing of operators and operator education/training requirements
    • Vehicle inspection requirements
    • Liability insurance for owners and operators
    • Traffic laws unique to AV and those that should not be applicable to AV, including distinctions between personal use, commercial freight, use and public transit
    • Tort liability---personal injury and product liability
    • Law enforcement including accident reporting and investigation
    • Cybersecurity
    • Privacy of collected vehicle data  

After identifying the differences among states, the research should identify potential conflicts between federal and state law (preemption), interstate commerce implications of state laws with respect to deployment across state lines and technology restrictions, accommodation of persons with disabilities, and areas conducive to reciprocity.

A review of model AV legislation that has been prepared by various groups such as the Uniform Law Commission and Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets may be helpful to identify the differences in model AV legislation and how model legislation may have addressed Preemption, Commerce Clause, ADA, and other concerns.

This project should build upon, not duplicate, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) work to track AV legislation that has been introduced in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The purpose of the research is not to provide a summary of all state laws but rather to identify the differences between state laws in the research areas. It should consider similar projects, such as the New England CAV Working Group’s project, RFP # T202008003, which is underway and involves performing an assessment of regulations, policies, and practices in Connected/Automated Vehicles (testing and deployment) among six New England states, with the goal to build upon, not duplicate, the efforts of the New England CAV or other similar groups.


This research will be conducted in four tasks pursuant to a firm fixed price agreement. The tasks will be as follows:

Task 1. Research plan and detailed report outline. The consultant will conduct background research and collect relevant material. Based on the initial but complete review of the source material, the consultant will propose a detailed report outline. The outline should be about 8 to 12 pages, include a proposed survey if one is to be used, and contain sufficient detail to inform the NCHRP project panel of what a 75- to 100-page report will contain. This outline should also contain the estimated pagination for each proposed section and/or subsection. This material will be submitted to NCHRP for consideration and approval.

Task 2. After approval of the work plan, the consultant should conduct additional research, including case studies and statutory/regulatory analysis.

Task 3. Draft report in accordance with the approved work plan (including modifications required by TRB).

Task 4. Revise report as necessary. The consultant should estimate that two revisions will be necessary. One revision may be required after review by the NCHRP staff and members of a select subcommittee. Additional revisions may be required after the full committee has reviewed the report.

FUNDING: $100,000


25% paid upon submission and approval of the Task 1 Report.

50% paid upon submission and approval of the Task 3 Report.

25% paid upon submission and approval of the Final Report (following revisions as required by NCHRP).

An important factor in rating proposal offers will be the proposer’s commitment to promptly undertake and complete this study.


1.  Proposals should be submitted as a single PDF with the following information and in the following order:

2.  Summary sheet. (Here is the summary sheet). A research plan that describes each task in sufficient detail to allow the review panel to make an informed assessment of the likelihood of the proposer’s success. The plan must include:

  • An introduction that provides a concise overview of the proposer’s understanding of the topic and the issues presented, the proposed team’s experience and qualifications relevant to the topic, and the team’s proposed approach to conducting the research and preparing the report;
  • A brief outline of the proposed contents of the report;
  • Detailed information on the proposed research methodology for each task in sufficient detail to permit evaluation of achieving the objective(s);
  • Statement of resources (e.g., hours per person per task) allocated to this project, and timelines for each task;
  •  Resumes of key team members along with a description of responsibilities;
  • Any additions, deletions, or changes you may wish to suggest to the scope of work for undertaking the work; and
  • A list of relevant prior publications (one or two samples may be enclosed).

3.  An executed, unaltered liability statement. Here is a printable version of the Liability Statement.

Proposers will be evaluated by individuals collectively knowledgeable in this problem area. Evaluations are based upon the proposer’s: (1) knowledge, experience, and accomplishments in the subject area (demonstrated by the research plan, statement of resources, qualifications, and resumes); (2) understanding of the work (demonstrated by the team’s proposed approach to conducting the research and preparing the report); (3) prior relevant publications (including briefs); and (4) schedule for completing the work.


A.  Proposers should read Guidance for Working on NCHRP and TCRP Legal Projects for more information.

B. Copyrights - All data, written materials, computer software, graphic and photographic images, and other information prepared under the contract and the copyrights therein shall be owned by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The contractor and subcontractors will be able to publish this material for non-commercial purposes, for internal use, or to futher academic research or studies with permission from TRB Cooperative Research Programs. The contractor and subcontractors will not be allowed to sell the project material without prior approval by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. By  signing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, contractors accept legal responsibility for any copyright infringement that may exist in work done for TRB. Contractors are therefore responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions for use of copyrighted material in TRB's Cooperative Research Programs publications. For guidance on TRB's policies on using copyrighted material please consult Section 5.4, "Use of Copyrighted Material," in the Procedural Manual for Contractors. 


Proposals should be uploaded via this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/MCGysvNdR0G9pnX1mwca
Proposals are due not later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on 12/3/2021.

This is a firm deadline, and extensions are not granted. In order to be considered for award, the agency's proposal accompanied by the executed, unmodified Liability Statement must be in our offices not later than the deadline shown, or the proposal will be rejected.

Liability Statement

The signature of an authorized representative of the proposing agency is required on the unaltered statement in order for TRB to accept the agency's proposal for consideration. Proposals submitted without this executed and unaltered statement by the proposal deadline will be summarily rejected. An executed, unaltered statement indicates the agency's intent and ability to execute a contract that includes the provisions in the statement.

Here is a fillable PDF version of the Liability Statement. A free copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader is available at https://www.adobe.com.

General Notes

1. According to the provisions of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 21, which relates to nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs, all parties are hereby notified that the contract entered into pursuant to this announcement will be awarded without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability.

2. The essential features required in a proposal for research are detailed in the current brochure entitled "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals". Proposals must be prepared according to this document, and attention is directed specifically to Section V for mandatory requirements. Proposals that do not conform with these requirements will be rejected.

3. The total funds available are made known in the project statement, and line items of the budget are examined to determine the reasonableness of the allocation of funds to the various tasks. If the proposed total cost exceeds the funds available, the proposal is rejected.

4. All proposals become the property of the Transportation Research Board. Final disposition will be made according to the policies thereof, including the right to reject all proposals.

5. Potential proposers should understand that follow-on activities for this project may be carried out through either a contract amendment modifying the scope of work with additional time and funds, or through a new contract (via sole source, full, or restrictive competition).

To create a link to this page, use this URL: http://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=5244