On September 6, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously voted to approve the “SELF DRIVE Act,” which allows automakers to release up to 25,000 self-driving vehicles onto public roads without meeting existing auto safety standards within the first year, and gradually allows a total of 100,000 vehicles within three years.
The ease in federal regulation has pleased state and local officials, reports Government Technology:
With that support, officials say they hope the federal government leaves ample room for state and local governments to regulate planning, licensing and revenue generation related to autonomous vehicles.
Automakers must still demonstrate to the federal government that self-driving vehicles are just as safe as human-operated vehicles, but states maintain oversight of licensing, registration, safety inspections, insurance requirements, and traffic laws.
Nineteen states have passed legislation related to autonomous vehicles, and four governors have passed executive orders creating workgroups to look at how their states should proceed. Maryland is not one of those states, despite state transportation officials taking organized efforts to examine the impact autonomous vehicles will have in Maryland.
Last session, the Maryland Department of Transportation had Senate Bill 9 introduced to authorize the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) to adopt regulations governing autonomous vehicles – but that bill died in committee. Over the last two years, Senator Serafini and Delegate Beidle have introduced legislation to create a task force to study the use of self-driving vehicles, which also either died in their respective committees or were withdrawn.
Regardless, in 2015, Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn established the Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAV) Working Group as the central point of coordination for the development and deployment of emerging CAV technologies in Maryland. The Working Group handles strategic planning for MDOT concerning connected and automated vehicles. MACo and the County Engineers Association of Maryland are both represented on the Working Group.