A bill making its way through the state legislature could make Utah the first state in the country to allow self-driving vehicles on all roads and set liability and insurance rules for autonomous vehicles.
While legislation concerning self-driving vehicles has already been passed in multiple states including most notably in California, Nevada, and Michigan, no state has opened up the doors quite as fully to autonomous vehicles as Utah is proposing to do.
HB371 passed through the House Transportation Committee unanimously on February 21st. Its sponsor, Robert Spendlove (R), claims that the legislation could improve safety and be an economic boon for the state.
“There is a great opportunity because of Utah’s tech center… to really take a lead in this area.” said Spendlove according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
In addition to opening up all of Utah’s roads to autonomous vehicles, the bill would also attempt to answer two unsolved puzzles about the technology: how do you insure self-driving vehicles, and if there’s an accident, who is at fault?
The details still need to be worked out, but insurance and liability would be different depending on the automation level of the vehicle. As Spendlove explains it:
Level 1 – A car that can accelerate by itself, like with cruise control.
Level 2 – “Most of the cars coming out right now are a level 2” because they have lane assist and smart braking.
Level 3 – A car that can do most of the work, but still requires you to be actively engaged.
Level 4 – A car that can do everything on its own, but needs a driver to be able to take over in an emergency.
Level 5 – a fully autonomous car that doesn’t need a person in the vehicle to operate.
According to Spendlove, the implementation date of the bill may be delayed so that they have sufficient time to work out all of the details.