States Moving Forward with Self-Driving Vehicle Laws
May 1, 2018 (brookings.edu) An article from brookings.edu reviews current and evolving laws in the United States regarding self-driving vehicles and autonomous technology.
Following the deaths of two people that involved self-driving technology (a pedestrian struck by a self-driving Uber in Arizona and a California man who crashed a Tesla while using Autopilot), the industry might have stalled out. But autonomous technology companies like Waymo are still moving forward with developing features they hope to turn into mainstream fully autonomous vehicles in the near future.
With the continued advancement of the technology, states are working to pass laws that regulate self-driving vehicles and features. Many states have taken a cautious approach to their regulations in light of the recent fatal accidents, but almost all states in the U.S. have passed some kind of law regarding autonomous driving.
Some states have started easing restrictions on following distance to allow for autonomously driven trucks to “platoon,” or following each other closely, to lower air resistance and maximize fuel efficiency. Autonomous trucks are able to stop and start at much faster rates than humans, so they do not need the standard legal distances that allow for human reaction time.
Other states, like North Dakota, have started passing laws regarding the data and information collected and stored by self-driving vehicles. North Dakota was considering allowing car owners to own their data and distribute it with permission. However, state lawmakers ultimately decided to mandate that the Department of Transportation study all self-driving data, regardless of the car owner.
California, which has been a hotbed for self-driving testing, has passed laws that require autonomous technology companies to file reports with the government regarding the number of miles driven, the number of interventions by human safety drivers, and the number of accidents that occur with the vehicles. California has recently expanded its laws to also allow for fully autonomous vehicles that do not have human safety drivers.
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