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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: November 17, 2017 10:23 AM
From: Representative Greg Rothman
To: All House members
Subject: Authorization for Use of Automated Work Zone Vehicles by PennDOT and the PA Turnpike Commission and Platooning of Motor Carrier Vehicles

In the near future I plan to introduce legislation that would:
  • authorize the use of automated work zone vehicles by PennDOT and the PA Turnpike Commission (PATC); and
  • allow for the platooning of motor carrier vehicles.
Automated Work Zone Vehicles
These fully autonomous vehicles are a necessity to protect workers from injury or death caused by other motorists. They operate without a driver by following a PennDOT/PATC maintenance vehicle that has been outfitted with hardware to communicate its maneuvering and actions to the automated vehicle. The autonomous system can then exactly match the motion of the leader vehicle, following at a constant, predetermined distance to provide consistent protection from work zone intrusion without placing a driver at risk. While Colorado recently became the first state in the nation to deploy these vehicles, the Commonwealth has the opportunity to be on the cutting-edge of work zone safety.

According to the PA Turnpike Commission, from 2015 - 2017:
  • 73 work zone vehicles equipped with truck mounted attenuators were struck by motorist;
  • 785 work zone traffic accidents occurred with 7 customer/traveler deaths.
While PennDOT systems are unable to provide similar data points, the Department did see 1,935 and 2,075 work zone vehicular accidents for 2015 and 2016, respectfully.

Platooning is when motor carrier vehicles travel in a unified manner at electronically coordinated speeds while drivers retain steering control and command of their vehicle at all times. These vehicles use GPS, cameras, radar-based collision avoidance, and proprietary vehicle-control algorithms in order to couple trucks through vehicle-to-vehicle communication. The direct communication link between the vehicles enables the non-lead vehicle(s) to automatically react to acceleration or braking by the front vehicle, nearly instantaneously. This automatic and immediate reaction improves safety and allows vehicles to travel at closer distances, which improves aerodynamics and reduces fuel use.

Under current law, the driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent. My legislation would exempt those vehicles in a platoon from being pulled over and cited for a violation of §3310 (related to following too closely), as well as:
  • restricting a platoon to three motor carrier vehicles;
  • limiting their operation to the interstates and limited access highways; and
  • requiring a visual identifier that can be recognized by law enforcement.
Below are some examples of how impactful the platooning of motor carrier vehicles is:


  • Platooning results in a lower fuel consumption, as the trucks drive closer together at a constant speed, with less braking and accelerating, saving the industry $6 billion in diesel fuel costs.
  • Truck platooning has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 10%.
  • Truck platooning is part of the industry’s integrated approach to further reducing CO2 emissions

  • With conventional trucks, critical risk factors are driver reaction time and concentration. Indeed, some 94% of all traffic accidents are due to human error. Platooning technology reacts in as little as 30 milliseconds compared to 1-1.5 seconds for human reaction.
  • Allowing for more predictive driving of trucks on the road, platooning also improves safety for other road users.


  • Truck platooning optimizes transport by using roads more effectively, helping deliver goods faster and reducing traffic jams.
  • It, therefore, enables the supply chain and transport system to be optimized.

Business benefits

  • Platooning is a cost-saver, as lower fuel consumption means lower fuel costs, which currently make up 30% of total operating costs of a truck. In a two truck platoon the lead driver would save up to 5% fuel economy and the 2nd truck would save up to 10% fuel economy.
  • For transport companies, platooning means a safer, more efficient flow of their freight.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important piece of legislation.

Introduced as HB1958