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Benson, Zwicker Statement on Joint Hearing Discussion on Self-Driving Vehicles

Studying Safety a Key Factor before Moving Forward

The Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities and the Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology Committee met jointly Monday morning to receive testimony from invited guests concerning the development of autonomous vehicles and the regulation of autonomous vehicles operating in New Jersey. Chairmen Daniel Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex) and Andrew Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon) issued the following statements after the hearing:

Benson- “The pathway to fully autonomous vehicles runs first through safer technology assisted vehicles. New Jersey is home to some of the most densely driven roads in the Northeast. We can and should be a leader in this new technology and through stakeholder discussions can make that a reality.

“To do this, New Jersey has to first address how this new technology will impact the state’s role in regulating drivers, vehicles and insurance. There’s potential here to make our roads safer, to lessen pollution and to provide a new way for people and goods to get around the Garden State. I look forward to continuing this discussion in the Transportation Committee and through the proposed Task Force.”

Zwicker- “Autonomous vehicles have the potential to change our mobility options as we know them and shape transportation for the next generation. As with any emerging technology, we must gain a better understanding of the numerous issues related to these vehicles with safety being at the very top of the list.

“Another factor that will need in depth study is the impact on jobs, as well as cybersecurity, licensing agreements, insurance and cost. The testimonies we heard today will help ensure that we consider these issues in a thoughtful way and create smart legislation that is beneficial to the residents of New Jersey.”

The Assembly Transportation Committee voted to release a measure (AJR-164)–sponsored by Benson, Zwicker and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt that would establish the “New Jersey Advanced Vehicle Task Force.” The task force is to conduct a study of advanced autonomous vehicles and to make recommendations on laws, rules, and regulations that this State may enact to safely integrate advanced autonomous vehicles on the State’s highways, streets, and roads.

The Assembly Transportation Committee also considered three bills for discussion concerning autonomous vehicles:

A-1853 Permits testing and use of autonomous vehicles on state roadways under certain circumstances;
A-4541 Directs MVC to establish driver’s license endorsement for autonomous vehicles; and
A-4573 Establishes a fully autonomous vehicle pilot program.

Among the invited guests for today’s hearing were representatives from Teamsters Local 469; New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers and the former administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.