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Platooning

In 2018, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (PA) passed Act 117, allowing platoons to operate on public highways. Under this law, up to three (3) vehicles may platoon together, given that they have submitted a Platoon Operations Plan. A platoon is defined as two (2) or three (3) buses, military vehicles or motor carrier vehicles traveling in a unified manner at electronically coordinated speeds at following distances that are closer than would be reasonable and prudent without the coordination.

Pursuant to Act 117, the Department is tasked with issuing policies regarding platoon operations, which we seek to align with model state policies issued as part of comprehensive federal guidance. Accordingly, the Department has developed a policy to regulate the operations of the platoons in Pennsylvania.

The Platoon Operator is required to demonstrate ample assurance that it is capable of establishing, managing, and running a safe and successful platooning operation on Pennsylvania’s highways while utilizing successfully tested Driver-Assistive Vehicle Platooning (DAVP) technologies. Through the development and Departmental review of a Platoon Operations Plan consisting of the parameters included in this section, residents, visitors, and businesses of Pennsylvania can be assured of platooning operations achieving operational objectives.

Platoon Operators shall review the Vehicle Platooning Policy prior to submitting their Platoon Operations Plan.

To ensure all information is safely and securely transferred, PennDOT will be using the GlobalSCAPE Enhanced File Transfer tool. However, in order to access GlobalSCAPE, the Office of Administration requires outside parties to have Business Partner accounts. To obtain a Business Partner account, please complete the "Commonwealth IT Resource Acceptable Use Policy User Agreement — Commonwealth Contractor or Consultant" within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Information Technology Acceptable Use Policy (PDF) and email a scanned copy to penndotav@pa.gov. Please note, it may take 1-2 business days to create an account. Once your account has been created, you will be notified via email and will have access to the GlobalSCAPE system. PennDOT also has provided instructions on how to use the GlobalSCAPE system (PDF).

Operating Constraints

The Department may restrict vehicle movement for operational or safety reasons, including, but not limited to, emergency conditions.

  • Vehicles in a platoon can only operate on approved limited access highways or interstate highways including ramps connecting one highway with another. This list of approved Base Vehicle Platooning Routes.
  • Platooning operations are prohibited in work zones when workers are present, tunnels, or through toll plazas.
  • Platooning operations are prohibited in any lanes where trucks are prohibited.

  • Headways

  • The platoon shall maintain a safe and reasonable minimum headway distance as determined by the Operator and USDOT/Federal requirements as applicable. Each vehicle in a platoon shall maintain a headway of at least 40 feet when traveling over bridges.
  • A maximum of three platooning vehicles are permitted within the platoon.
  • Platooning operations are restricted to an operational design domain (ODD) defined by the Platooning Operator.

  • Disengagement Requirements

    To manage traffic flow and ensure road safety, platooning vehicles must disengage platooning technology when:
  • It is necessary to allow reasonable access for vehicles to enter or exit the highway;
  • It is necessary to ensure an overtaking/cutting-in vehicle to enter and occupy the space between the two vehicles without danger;
  • Operating on a segment of roadway with a hazardous grade speed limit;
  • Entering a Weigh Station;
  • Entering or driving within a work zone when workers are present, or work zone is active;
  • Entering or driving within toll plazas; or,
  • Complying with Department's disengagement requests.

  • The following selected vehicles are not permitted to participate in vehicle platooning:

  • Vehicles carrying hazardous materials;
  • Vehicles carrying oversize or overweight loads;
  • Vehicles carrying fluids (e.g., tankers, concrete trucks);
  • Vehicles carrying pipes, lumber, or similar types of loose loads;
  • Vehicles carrying livestock;
  • Automobile and boat transporter combinations
     (traditional and stinger-steered);
  • Truck and pole combinations;
  • B-Train combination;
  • Lowboy tractor/trailer combinations (loaded and unloaded); and
  • Saddlemount or saddlemount with fullmount combinations
  • Platoon Operator shall be responsible to ensure that the platoon only operates in conditions the DAVP system is safely capable of handling. Platoon operations shall not operate if the travel lane is:

    • Snow Covered;
    • Icy; or
    • There is a reduced visibility.

    Hours of Service

    • Drivers must comply with applicable HOS regulations designated by FMCSA.

    Driver Requirements/Driver Qualifications

    • The vehicle is operated only by a driver listed in the Platoon Operations Plan.
    • A trained driver is required in each vehicle equipped with DAVP system. The driver is responsible for care and control of the vehicle.
    • Drivers and monitors must hold an appropriately endorsed and valid commercial driver license (CDL).
    • Drivers must pass appropriate practical training provided and/or designated by technology developer, Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) or Tier 1 supplier.

    Visual Identifier

    The Department shall issue, upon receipt of payment from the approved platooning operator, a serialized sticker which shall be displayed at all times to alert law enforcement that the vehicle is capable of being part of a platoon. The sticker shall be displayed on the driver and passenger side of the power unit in
    close proximity to other federal and/or state regulated decals and stickers.

    Automation

    If a Platoon Operator is planning to utilize an highly automated non-lead vehicle, they must receive authorization from the Department complete the Notice of Testing form (PDF) and Notice of Testing Supplement form (PDF), if necessary. Authorization must be received prior to submitting a Platoon Operations Plan.

    If Platoon Operators encounter any issues or have questions, please email PennDOT at penndotav@pa.gov.