Ting Bill Ensuring Safer Roads While Autonomous Vehicles Are Tested Heads To the Governor

Monday, August 27, 2018

The state Legislature is taking steps to make sure driverless cars will operate safely on California roads. The state Assembly approved AB 87 by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) today, giving law enforcement the authority to impound unpermitted autonomous vehicles (AVs). The legislation comes as Sacramento is poised to become the first California city where AVs with no occupants will be tested on public streets. 

“While we support technology that could potentially create new transportation opportunities, companies can’t just put an AV on the road whenever they feel like it. Lives are at stake,” said Ting, author of AB 87. “By giving police the power to seize unpermitted AVs, we’re incentivizing operators to go through the proper channels first. We need assurances their AVs can interact safely with drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.”

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issues three types of AV permits, depending on where the testing takes place and whether or not there’s a back-up human driver in the car. Minimum financial and safety requirements must be met before a permit is approved. 50 companies testing nearly 400 self-driving vehicles are currently licensed by the state for trials. The DMV requires AVs tested on public streets without a human occupant to have a remote driver or monitor watching over it. Only two companies so far have sought such approval.

"Autonomous vehicles can be dangerous, particularly because they don't have to meet basic federal safety standards. AB 87 will help give law enforcement in our state the tools they need to tow autonomous vehicles that are operating on California roads without the proper permits," said Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety.

AB 87 now heads to Governor Brown for consideration. Like all bills passed in the last days of session, he has until the end of September to act. If approved, it’ll take effect on January 1, 2019.

Media Contact: Nannette Miranda (916) 319-2019

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