Legislation Heads to the Governor’s Desk, Would Make NJ 4th State to Establish Task Force
(TRENTON) – To ensure self-driving cars are safely integrated on New Jersey roads, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Andrew Zwicker and Pamela Lampitt to establish a task force to evaluate autonomous vehicles was approved on Thursday by the full Assembly.
“As major auto companies explore developing semi and fully autonomous cars, we need to prepare for the day when we’ll see only self-driving vehicles on our roadways,” said Benson (Mercer, Middlesex). “The goal of this task force will be to assess how we can introduce autonomous vehicles to our roadways while keeping drivers safe.”
The measure (AJR-164) would create the New Jersey Advanced Autonomous Vehicle Task Force, comprised of eight members. The group would be responsible for conducting a study of autonomous vehicles and recommending laws, rules, and regulations that the state may enact to safely integrate these vehicles on the roads.
An advanced autonomous vehicle would be defined as a motor vehicle with a driving automation level of three, four, or five, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers International, and is used by the United States Department of Transportation for autonomous vehicle policy guidance. Level three vehicles are classified as having conditional automation, during which an autonomous system operates under certain conditions with human drivers as a back-up; level four vehicles have high automation, such as Google’s test cars; and level five cars are fully automated and do not have a steering wheel.
“It may not be long before self-driving cars are commonplace in New Jersey, marking a significant change in how people get around each day,” said Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon). “We need to make sure our transportation regulations are up to date to meet this influx of innovation.”
“As drivers begin using autonomous cars equipped with new, never-before-seen technology, it’s essential to study how to best introduce and regulate these vehicles,” said Lampitt. (D-Camden, Burlington). “The work of this task force will help us gain a better understanding of how self-driving cars will impact our roads, and how we can improve existing laws to ensure the safety of all drivers.”
The task force shall be comprised of the following members: the Commissioner of Transportation (DOT); the Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC); the Director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety in the Department of Law and Public Safety; three public members appointed by the Governor including a member who was recommended by the Division of Banking and Insurance; one public member appointed by the Senate President; and one public member appointed by the Speaker of the General Assembly.
The group would be required to meet within 90 days after the bill’s effective date, and within 180 days of the first meeting. It would be required to issue a report to the Governor and the Legislature evaluating safety standards and recommending best practices. The New Jersey MVC and the DOT would be required to assist the task force with necessary duties.
Additionally, the task force would conduct an evaluation of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s safety standards for advanced autonomous vehicles and whether the state may enact stricter safety standards; an evaluation of existing state and federal law concerning advanced autonomous vehicles with a focus on safety standards; an evaluation of existing legislation and regulations in other states concerning advanced autonomous vehicles with a focus on safety standards; recommendations on how New Jersey could safely integrate advanced autonomous vehicles on the highways, streets, and roads; any other information relevant to the subject of the report; and any draft legislation the task force deems appropriate.
If enacted, New Jersey would join Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Oregon in using a task force to study the implementation of autonomous vehicles.
The measure now heads to the Governor’s desk.