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August 2017

Q&A with the 2017–2018 AAMVA Chair of the Board

What led to your career in transportation?

My entire career, almost 40 years now, has been in one way or another associated with transportation. In 1978, I started working in the automotive aftermarket industry, and during that time I was president and CEO of a multistate operation. By 1998, I sold the businesses and joined PennDOT as the director of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles—becoming Deputy Secretary in 2007—and the rest is history.

What are some important issues you’re focusing on in your jurisdiction?

One area that we [PennDOT] will certainly continue to focus on in 2017 is the discussion related to automated vehicles and the responsibility and role of the Commonwealth in terms of the testing and deployment of those vehicles. 

I believe automated vehicles are extremely important because of the future opportunities they present. Last year, I co-chaired the PennDOT Autonomous Vehicle Policy Task Force, which produced a policy document in November 2016. We’ve received a tremendous amount of positive input about that report. In our discussions, we recognized early on that we needed to have the flexibility of policy, enabled by legislation, instead of going through the regulatory process. With the technology changing literally on a weekly basis, there was no way for regulations to keep pace with the evolving technology.

While there are challenges and hurdles that need to be overcome before these vehicles are in everyday use, the opportunities are tremendous. I want to do everything we can to ensure that we facilitate the development and implementation of this technology while ensuring public safety.

Kurt Myers and PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards field questions from the media about Pennsylvania’s Autonomous Vehicle Policy Task Force.

Looking back on your career thus far, is there one particular accomplishment you’re most proud of?

Our agency is so large, with almost 12 million registered vehicles and nearly 10 million driver’s licenses issued, that every project we deploy across the Commonwealth is a huge undertaking and requires a lot of moving parts to make it all happen. I’m very proud that over the years we’ve implemented a number of programs statewide that have been deployed in a seamless manner. That’s really a credit to our team’s dedication and passion for the work they do.

Could you tell me about your work with the International Registration Plan (IRP) from 1999–2009?

It was a tremendous experience and a great opportunity to focus on an area that’s of extreme importance, not only to the AAMVA community, but to the trucking industry as well. I was on the board for 10 years, and chair of the board from 2004–2006. I’m glad I had the opportunity to serve in that capacity because it certainly gave me a background in motor carrier issues and concerns that I otherwise wouldn’t have had.

How did you get involved with AAMVA?

I got involved by being on the IRP board, because IRP was a part of AAMVA then. Next I became an AAMVA Region I board member in 2010. I served there and was eventually chair of the Region I board, and I became a member of the AAMVA international board in 2011.

What is one of the best parts about working with the AAMVA community?

The list is long. Being able to speak with my peers throughout the United States and Canada in an open dialogue is perhaps one of the most important. There’s so much we can learn from each other, and that’s a true benefit for every jurisdiction—being able to talk with your peers and see what they’re doing—their best practices and lessons learned. Being able to share that kind of information is extremely valuable and so critical for success. You can’t do these jobs in a vacuum; you need to know what other jurisdictions are doing.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I participate in a sport called sporting clays [a form of clay target shooting]. It’s a great opportunity to spend time with friends and relax. I really enjoy doing that when I have the time.