A Texas bill which would allow testing of driverless vehicles on public roads sped its way through both the State Senate and House and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature to become law.
As with most states, Texas does not currently have a law explicitly prohibiting driverless cars, but also has no law allowing them. If the bill becomes law, Texas will join Nevada, Michigan, and Colorado to become one of the friendliest states toward autonomous vehicle development.
Senate Bill 2205, approved unanimously in the Senate and with just one ‘no’ vote in the House, would put a law in place to both allow and regulate driverless vehicles on Texas roads “regardless of whether a human operator is physically present in the vehicle.”
Interestingly, the bill has language in it to supersede other laws saying; “Notwithstanding any other law, a licensed human operator is not required to operate a motor vehicle if an automated driving system installed on the vehicle is engaged.” It is also the automated driving system itself that is “considered to be licensed to operate the vehicle.”
There are also regulations that would be put in place by the bill such as requiring owners of autonomous vehicles to comply with all traffic and motor vehicle laws. All autonomous vehicles would need to be equipped with data recording systems, be insured, and meet federal safety standards. If an accident occurs, the car must automatically stop and notify the proper authorities.
Texas lawmakers made it clear that the push behind the bill was to make sure the Texas economy would not be left out of the autonomous revolution.
“The Texas economy fosters innovation,” said Sen. Hancock who introduced the bill in the State Senate. “Automotive technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and we need to be prepared for it.”
But it’s not just the driving of autonomous vehicles Texas wants to grab hold of – it’s the manufacturing as well. In comments to the Texas Tribune, State Representative Charlie Geren said “I don’t want General Motors, or Ford, or Volkswagen, or Uber or anybody going anywhere else because Texas isn’t quite ready for this yet.”
With almost unanimous support in the State Legislature, it seems very likely that the bill will signed into law soon, but it has been sitting on the Governor’s desk for about two weeks now waiting on a signature.
You can read the bill by clicking here.