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State Laws Pursue Autonomous Vehicle Rules

by Anna Mischke | Jun 30, 2017

062817 Customer NewsAs autonomous vehicles begin to make their way to freight and trucking thanks to tech giants and carmakers, state legislatures are focusing more time and energy toward enacting rules on driverless cars and trucks on the road. These vehicles are meant to navigate their own way without the need of a driver to hold the steering wheel, in many states they have been authorized for testing.

Implemented by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, autonomous vehicles are grouped into six classes of automation ranging from zero automation to full automation on levels 0 to 5. Some say that autonomous vehicles could greatly reduce accidents due to human error and may decrease congestion by more effectively using roadways. With the ability to communicate with each other, self-driving cars could utilize technology to detect problems ahead and adjust speed.

However, many are skeptical of the safety and efficiency of automated vehicles and even refer to them as “teen drivers”, too new and inexperienced on the road to be considered safe. Understanding the approved levels of safety are hazy at best, with researchers wondering whether driverless vehicles would be required to drive without accident or flaw or simply break fewer laws than human drivers. Steven Shladover, a research engineer and manager of the Partners for Advances Transportation Technology, explains that “there is a need for fundamental research to support the development of dependable and affordable methods for assessing the safety of an automated driving system when it is confronted with the full range of traffic hazards.”

Both the potential success of technology driven vehicles and the numerous risks they could pose, has many states implementing rules specifically addressing these new rigs through state law, regulation, or executive order. Some states such as Colorado will allow driverless vehicles if they meet federal and state driving safety regulations. Other states like New Jersey require a physical driver behind the wheel regardless. In Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee signed an executive order allowing driverless test drives on state roads to “support the safe testing and operation of autonomous vehicles on Washington’s public roads.” Some politicians in Massachusetts are backing a bill to set a mileage-based tax on the usage of these cars, and permit large municipalities to ban the vehicles entirely.

The number of states considering legislation covering autonomous vehicles jumped from six to twenty from 2012 to 2016 and more states appear poised to take action. 

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  1. Lonnie Giffen | Jul 05, 2017
    If these car's help with backup's then I'm all for it and speed management

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