Senator Hill Introduces Bill to Help Accelerate Deployment of Self-Driving Cars in California

South San Francisco, CA   January 17, 2017   Submitted by the Office of Senator Jerry Hill 

California Senator Jerry Hill

SB 145 Eliminates 180-Day Waiting Period for Putting Autonomous Vehicles on the Road

SACRAMENTO — Senator Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, introduced Senate Bill 145 today to eliminate a 180-day waiting period for companies that file an application to deploy driverless vehicles. The bill will also strike a requirement that the DMV notify the Legislature each time such an application is submitted.

“California has long been a leader in the development of self-driving cars, and this bill helps to continue our momentum in fostering the technology,” said Senator Hill. “Senate Bill 145 ensures that when the final regulations are published for fully autonomous vehicles, manufacturers that comply with the rules won’t have to wait half a year to put their self-driving cars on the road. This legislation removes that roadblock and enables California to retain its leading edge in this developing field without compromising safety.”

In 2012, the Legislature and Governor enacted SB 1298 by then-Senator Alex Padilla to set up the framework for authorization of autonomous vehicles in California. The legislation sought to balance the testing and deployment of the new technology with rules to ensure their safe operation and the safe transport of passengers and cargo.

Under the law, the DMV created regulations for testing autonomous vehicles with a driver in the car. The regulations were published in 2014. So far, 20 companies have applied for a testing permit and been approved. The DMV is working to finalize regulations for testing and deployment of fully autonomous vehicles, which would not have a human operator aboard. The regulations, currently out in draft form, are expected to be finalized this year.

The 2012 law also obligates the DMV to notify the Legislature each time the DMV receives an application to operate fully autonomous vehicles, and requires a 180-day waiting period before the application can be approved. The law, however, does not specify what the Legislature should do, if anything, during the 180-day waiting period, and the Legislature has many other means for oversight – such as through the budget process or hearings – that would not entail a six-month gap between application and action.

“My bill makes a necessary change to ensure that California law does not hinder the evolution and progression of self-driving technology,” Senator Hill said. “Eliminating the six-month waiting period will remove an unneeded barrier to deployment of this innovative technology. Self-driving cars have the potential to bring efficiency to our systems of transportation, to save lives, reduce injuries, and increase mobility, especially for those whose opportunities to travel even within their own neighborhoods are limited.”

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), human error is to blame for 94 percent of car crashes.

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Resources:

Senate Bill 145:
http://sd13.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd13.senate.ca.gov/files/SB145_BillText.pdf

DMV Draft Regulations for Autonomous Vehicles:
https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/wcm/connect/211897ae-c58a-4f28-a2b7-03cbe213e51d/avexpressterms_93016.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

More Information on Autonomous Vehicles:
https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/vr/autonomous/auto

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