Automated mobility has potential to support the European Union’s cohesion objectives, but the transition has to be managed properly and involving local and regional authorities (LRAs) who are responsible for mobility policies and road infrastructure and provide local and regional public transport. The topic was debated at today’s COTER Commission of the European Committee of the Regions, which adopted the draft opinion on ‘Road safety and automated mobility’ by rapporteur József Ribányi (EPP/HU).

In his draft opinion, the rapporteur discusses the different challenges related to technology, infrastructure and cohesion in the transition towards automated mobility.

Automated mobility has many potential benefits. In peak and quiet traffic periods, it can offer flexible pricing and pre-orders, enabling a more even use of capacities. It can make public transport more competitive by means of non-timetabled, demand-based, personalised, shared and energy efficient mobility services within and outside of settlements. In underdeveloped, peripheral European regions, car-sharing and ride-sharing services with digital solutions can enable local residents to reach more distant centres with a lower environmental impact, whilst avoiding depopulation of such areas. Furthermore, automated mobility services could make longer distance commuting more convenient, thus helping mitigate traffic saturation in major urban areas.

The training for a driving licence should cover the technology of assistance systems, the rapporteur proposes. The automotive industry, together with municipalities, could offer training courses and training areas for private and professional drivers.

For better territorial and economic convergence, there is a need to ensure appropriate financial resources for infrastructure modernisation and road safety measures over the years ahead, including for smaller regions and those that are lagging behind. In the context of the MFF 2021-2027, operators need to make full use of opportunities under all funding instruments available and optimise synergies. Attention is also drawn to the need to envisage particular support for regions where the socio-economic impact of the transition to automated mobility is likely to be greatest.

Finally, the rapporteur discusses the opportunities and challenges related to the evolving digital environment. He underlines the need for appropriate access to relevant vehicle data for LRAs as the largest operator of road networks in the Union. To achieve automated mobility in Europe, close cooperation between legislators in the field of self-driving vehicles and stakeholders in the area of transport organisation and operation as well as vehicle development and LRAs is necessary.

The draft opinion is due for adoption at the Plenary session of the CoR in February 2019.

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