Idaho is heading up its development of self-driving vehicle policies with the state’s first meeting to study the issue.
The Idaho Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Testing and Deployment Committee will hold its first meeting May 30 to begin the process of creating a framework for autonomous vehicle use and testing. The committee was formed by executive order by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter in January.
One of the top goals of the committee is to explore how the state should handle the many vehicle regulatory oversight issues, such as registration, licensing and insurance, as well as traffic regulations and “vehicle owner or operator responsibilities and liabilities under current law,” said Jennifer Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for the Idaho Transportation Department.
The committee is made up of leaders from multiple state departments ranging from transportation, commerce, homeland security, insurance, state police as well as industry and legislative representatives.
Currently, Idaho does not allow AV testing or use, said Gonzalez.
“This executive committee formation is the first step in learning about AV use and testing,” she added.
The move comes as numerous states — including neighbors to Idaho like Nevada, Utah and Washington — move forward with policy development related to autonomous vehicles. All told, 29 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation related to AVs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In addition, nine states have taken action on AVs through executive order.
The AV Testing and Deployment Committee will also explore, “strategic partnerships to leverage the social, economic and environmental benefits of autonomous and connected vehicles,” said Gonzalez.
Following several high-profile accidents involving autonomous vehicles, safety topics around AVs could also rank high among committee members.
“It would be speculative to comment on topics that may or may not come up during the first of the next three meetings,” said Gonzalez. “However, with a diverse committee membership that spans from Idaho State Police to the American Automobile Association to the Idaho Sheriff’s Association among many others, the topic of safety is bound to come up.”
This comes as a growing number of drivers are increasingly uneasy about the idea of self-driving cars. A recent survey by AAA found that that 73 percent of U.S. drivers “would be afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle.” This is up from 63 percent at the end of 2017.
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Sacramento.
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