New Jersey Floats New Law on Self-Driving Vehicles


New Jersey has become the latest of a handful of American states to legally address the issue of self-driving vehicles. Recently approved legislation is largely concerned with safety matters relating to self-driving cars, although critics expressed concern that such laws could stifle the technology.

The new law will require that manufacturers obtain approval from the New Jersey Vehicle Commission before testing autonomous vehicles on New Jersey's public roads. The operators must satisfy both safety and insurance standards. The law also stipulates that a driver must sit behind the wheel when the vehicle is under automatic operation. The proposed legislation will require a vote in the full New Jersey Assembly to take effect. This is the first time such legislation has been introduced in the state senate.

Pamela Lampitt, who was one of the two authors of the law, said that such action is needed when considering that autonomous vehicles will operate on the same roads as drivers. Assemblyman Daniel Benson, the co-author, noted that such laws are needed to address any problems that may arise with the new technology.

Criticism came from Damon Shelby Porter, representing automobile and truck manufacturers. He said that federal guidelines for the operation of autonomous vehicles should address safety issues, leaving registration and insurance matters up to the states. He further expressed concern that action at the state level could result in "a patchwork of laws," hampering the ability of manufacturers to produce vehicles throughout the country.

Another critic of the law was Alain Kornhauser, the director of transportation studies at Princeton University, who said that such legislation is premature. He compared the situation to the introduction of horseless carriages in the 19th century, expressing the belief that restrictions on such early vehicles could have restrained the development of modern automobiles. He was also concerned that the New Jersey bill could lead to false assumptions as to how the vehicles operate, adding that new legislation should instead concentrate on bad drivers.

Defenders of self-driving vehicles claim that improved safety is in fact one of the goals of autonomous technology. This point by Mark Rosekind, administrator of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, was backed up by statistics showing that 94 percent of the vehicle wrecks in the United States result from driver or some type of human error. Even when you remain vigilant on the road, someone else's mistake may spell disaster for you or something in the vehicle with you. If you have been injured from a car accident in New Jersey, contact Clifton personal injury attorney James Vasquez today.