Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has signed S.B. 995 into law on Dec. 9, authorizing electronically coordinated truck platooning on Michigan roads by creating an exception to the state’s minimum following distance for commercial vehicles.
Originally there was a minimum of 500 feet of following distance required by commercial vehicles, which presented a hindrance to testing and implementing truck platooning technology that requires at least two vehicles to follow closely. Using technology to link two vehicles together, a platooning truck can respond to braking by the lead truck in 10 milliseconds, bypassing a lag in driver perception and reaction time.
“We are committed to advancing safety and efficiency in commercial trucking operations and accelerating the economic benefits that result from improving the movement of goods,” said Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation. “Michigan is proud to be a leader in paving the way for the deployment and growth of vehicle platooning technologies.”
Connected and automated vehicle technology company Peloton applauded Michigan’s decision to support platooning technology calling it a “landmark law.”
“Michigan now leads the nation in the rollout of commercial truck platooning,” said Josh Switkes, CEO of Peloton Technology. “We are proud to be working with forward-looking state leaders like those in Michigan who prioritize prudent, driver-assistive truck automation systems that will provide strong economic benefits and improve the safe, efficient movement of goods."
Under the new law, Michigan DOT and State Police will review plans submitted by the operators of platoons before vehicles are allowed to use the technology on state roads.
The law also requires that truck platoons allow access for other vehicles to move safely between platooning trucks. Drivers holding a valid commercial driver’s license must be behind the wheel of every truck in a platoon.
Peloton is in a partnership with suppliers and truck manufacturers to create production-level platooning technology. While 11 other states have approved testing and trial activity, Michigan is the first state to support the deployment of platooning in commercial fleet operations. The company is currently preparing a plan for platooning operation to submit to the State of Michigan as required by the new law.
“It is tremendous to see this leadership by Michigan which will accelerate progress across the nation. We are actively working with Michigan to develop our plan for initial and ongoing platooning operations in the state,” said Steve Boyd, Peloton’s VP of external affairs. “Our plan includes early activities to promote public awareness on the key role of professional drivers in our truck platooning system and the safety, efficiency and mobility benefits that this technology provides to fleets and the public.”
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