Resolution 2023-01 Regarding Autonomous Vehicle Operation in Baltimore, Maryland

WHEREAS, fully autonomous vehicle technology has the potential to dramatically increase affordable and equitable transportation options for blind people; and

WHEREAS, safe, fully autonomous vehicle technology is licensed to be tested by the public in Phoenix, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, and Austin, or these cities currently offer publicly available, commercial autonomous vehicle rideshare service, or these cities soon plan to offer commercial, autonomous vehicle rideshare service; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland is the home state affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind, the transformative membership and advocacy organization of blind Americans; and

WHEREAS, Baltimore, the home of our national headquarters, the NFB Jernigan Institute, regularly attracts more residents and visitors who, being blind, are the leading experts in blindness, than any other city in the United States; and

WHEREAS, most of our national staff, Maryland affiliate members, national board members, leaders, and emerging leaders do not currently have the opportunity to regularly test fully autonomous vehicles in Baltimore, which puts the blind community at a severe disadvantage in assuring that autonomous vehicle manufacturers are producing fully nonvisually accessible transportation for the blind population: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland assembled this eleventh day of November, 2023,

that we urge the Maryland General Assembly to pass legislation making it possible for autonomous vehicle manufacturers to deploy and test autonomous vehicle rideshare service in Maryland; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and other jurisdictions to create policies that would incentivize autonomous vehicle rideshare companies to operate in their jurisdictions; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge the leading autonomous vehicle manufacturers to start investigating opportunities for deploying and testing commercial autonomous vehicle rideshare service in Maryland.