Thursday, January 31, 2013

Driverless car liability: how the government sees it

In response to a previous post about driverless car liability: Who will be liable when a driverless car accident happens? I was wondering, besides car manufacturers and insurers, how the government would answer.

 The answers are starting to come with the autorization for driverless driving in several US states.

 Here are the latests one from

March 2013 Texas and here:
State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, filed HB 2932 on Thursday to define “autonomous motor vehicle” and “autonomous technology” in the state’s transportation code. The bill would require that a licensed driver be held responsible for such a vehicle when it is in use, even if the car is operating without the driver inside it. It also directs the Texas Department of Transportation to set up rules for the use of such vehicles in the state, including minimum insurance requirements.

February 2013 Michigan / Detroit and here:

State Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, introduced the legislation Feb. 7. "My measure would help ensure that research and development expenditures and taxes related to automated vehicles stay in Michigan," he said.

Introduced by Sen. Mike Kowall (R) on February 7, 2013, to allow the operation on highways of an automated “driverless” vehicle for testing purposes, subject to narrow conditions. A human operator would have to to be present to monitor performance and intervene if necessary. Gov. Rick Snyder called for this in his 2013 State of the State address.

From The Detroit News:

February 2013 Wisconsin:

not many details available, except that "According to Risser (Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison), one thing that Wisconsin has that the Sun Belt states don't have is winter weather, which could be a selling point to carmakers trying to develop vehicles that can handle sleet, snow and ice.

Read more:"

January 2013 Oregon:

Oregon State Rep. Sara Gelser is attracting attention for a bill she’s sponsoring in the Legislature that could help clear the way for the testing and use of autonomous vehicles on Oregon roads. Here are 2 tremendously interesting points in bold

(3) The department shall adopt rules for the testing of autonomous vehicles .... The rules shall establish standards for equipment and for the performance of autonomous vehicles that the department determines are necessary to ensure the safe operation of autonomous vehicles on the highways of this state. The rules may limit the number of autonomous vehicles on the highways of this state, impose special license requirements for operators of autonomous vehicles and provide for revocation, suspension or denial of certification under this section.

(4) A manufacturer of autonomous vehicles must submit proof of liability insurance with
an application made under this section. The policy must be in an amount of not less than $5

The state of Oregon is going to decide what a driverless car is. It will have to build an expertise in this matter. What will happen if Oregon and California disagree? Do you have to go back in manual mode when you cross state borders?

The 2nd point is the beginning of the end for car insurance. This is the 1st step where it is not the driver anymore who is insured but the car manufacturer (read about step 4 of one of my other posts).

January 2013 Arizona:

But the proposal by Rep. Jeff Dial, R-Chandler, actually goes further, saying the person who puts the vehicle into autonomous mode is considered the driver "regardless of whether the person is physically present in the motor vehicle." 
"Imagine coming to work and you basically get to work, your car drops you off at the front door and … parks itself in the garage," he said. "Or, if you don't have money to afford a car, your car will drop you off there, like a time-share thing," driving itself to pick up the next client.

  January 2013 Colorado: law has been shelved until further notice :( lawmakers on the Senate Transportation Committee Tuesday remarked that the legislation is “ahead of its time.

The bill makes a legislative declaration and clarifies that a person may drive using a guidance system but requires the system to: 
! Safely operate in conformity with traffic law; 
! Have an override switch; 
! Return control to the driver when the driver steers, brakes, or uses the override switch; ! Show the driver whether the system is engaged; 
! Alert the driver and bring the motor vehicle to a stop unless the driver takes manual control upon detecting a system failure. 

A driver needs a license and insurance when using a guidance system. A driver may use a mobile phone, including text messaging, while using a guidance system. A driver of a motor truck or in a motorcade need not leave room for another vehicle to enter the space in front of the driver while using the guidance system.

Does it means that this vehicle has more right than others and need not to pay attention to other incoming cars?


  1. I think discussion on using the driverless cars has still a long way to go before finalizing. Compared to other cars for Sale in Texas, I think the typical cars are better when it comes to safety.

  2. I think that the government’s point of view about the driverless car is pretty suitable. And I think that the people should also develop such thinking in their minds.
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