autonomous vehicle enacted_legislation

Driverless cars set to take to the roads much faster than anticipated as Colorado passes first law regulating the technology

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Picture of driverless car with “passenger” in driving seat… courtesy of Volvo

The sheer speed with which driverless cars have gone from a fanciful notion to soon-to-be real-world, mainstream standard technology might be bewildering to some and slightly worrying to others. 

But for proponents and supporters of the technology – of which there are many, both inside the industry as well as in society at large – the driverless car was always clearly on the horizon, and it’s imminent arrival is not a moment too soon.

Colorado has become the latest state to pass a law which allows the development of autonomous cars as long as the developers observe existing laws of the road. 

autonomous vehicle enacted_legislation
Image courtesy of NCSL

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper – who seems to be a fan of the technology, taking a ride in an autonomous Chevy Bolt electric vehicle recently – says the state’s legislators are trying to encourage the development of automotive technologies without allowing laws to become too lenient to accommodate them.

In comments reported by the Denver Post, Hickenlooper says: “It’s hard to get the right balance between regulation and avoiding the red tape that sometimes stifles innovation.

“This is the right balance that allows Colorado to be a hotbed of innovation.”

Hickenlooper says none of the existing laws of the road were changed to accommodate the new law allowing autonomous vehicles.

So, for example, laws requiring people to fasten their seatbelts still apply even if they are in an autonomous car.

Colorado has become the 17th state to actually pass legislation, while three others have introduced laws that have yet to be passed.

The National Conference of State Legislators says that each year, the number of states considering legislation related to autonomous vehicles has gradually increased.

  • In 2017, 33 states have introduced legislation. Last year, 20 states introduced legislation.
  • Sixteen states introduced legislation in 2015, up from 12 states in 2014, nine states and District of Columbia in 2013, and six states in 2012.
  • Since 2012, at least 41 states and DC have considered legislation related to autonomous vehicles.
  • Sixteen states – Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Vermont – and Washington DC have passed legislation related to autonomous vehicles.

Governors in Arizona, Massachusetts and Wisconsin issued executive orders related to autonomous vehicles.

The NCSL has also established a new autonomous vehicles legislative database, providing up-to-date, real-time information about state autonomous vehicle legislation that has been introduced in the 50 states and DC.


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