Self-driving car laws will force us to share the road with driverless cars. As a result, cities will try to restrict the use of self-driving vehicles. However, provincial and federal legislation could prevent city regulation.

If this sounds like science fiction, think again. The Autonomous Vehicles Act, has been tabled and debated in Illinois since 2017. This would allow fully autonomous vehicles on the roads without human drivers. Therefore, the “autonomous driving system” legally becomes the driver. This combination of hardware and software is now capable of driving, according to this legislation.

Municipalities cannot create laws restricting driverless cars. Put another way, cities are not allowed to require a human driver to operate a fully autonomous vehicle.

The Safe Autonomous Vehicle Act in Illinois, requires manufacturers to have insurance. Manufacturers assume liability for incidents where the automated driving system technology is at fault. It also includes a $10,000 fine for operating a vehicle in fully autonomous mode without permission.

In September 2018, the Netherlands passed automated vehicles laws allowing driverless vehicles on the roads. This experimental project requires vehicles to be remotely monitored. The Netherlands is leading the way for the automated vehicle as driver.

Humans cannot delegate driving responsibility to their cars in British Columbia. The driver must be ready to take control of any automated system.

Even the NHTSA’s September 2016 report on autonomous vehicles suggested a different legal standards should apply to highly automated vehicles. The HAV system is therefore the “driver” for the purpose of traffic laws. This according to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The driverless car is coming the our streets. The question will be whether we want to share those roads or let the vehicles take over.

Learn more about self-driving car laws in BC.

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