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Lampitt, Barclay, Jones and Mukherji Sponsor Self-Driving Car Bill Geared Towards Present, Future Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Members Pamela Lampitt, Arthur Barclay, Patricia Egan Jones and Raj Mukherji clarifying that self-driving cars must comply with compulsory automobile and motor vehicle insurance requirements cleared the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee on Thursday.

The bill (A-1859) would amend the definition of “automobile” under the “New Jersey Automobile Reparation Reform Act” to include self-driving, private passenger cars that meet any SAE automation level as defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This move will add legitimacy to the prospect of self-driving cars riding all throughout the Garden State.

“The purpose of this bill is to show that we are serious about this,” says Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “We are in a time of rapid technological innovation, and we want New Jersey to lead the charge in turning the page from the present to the future.”

Current law provides that essentially every owner or registered owner of a motor vehicle registered or principally garaged in the state of New Jersey shall maintain motor vehicle liability insurance coverage. This bill would include self-driving vehicles as well.

“We want the policy implementation of self-driving vehicles to become a more pressing topic of discussion,” says Barclay (D-Camden/Gloucester). “This bill makes it clear that New Jersey not only sees the prospect of self-driving cars as viable, but as an important part of our future.”

These self-driving cars must use autonomous technology, including sensors, global positioning system coordinates, or any other technology to perform the mechanical operations of driving, the sponsors noted. They must have an operator seated in the driver’s seat, monitoring the safe operation of the autonomous vehicle, and the operator must be capable of taking over immediate manual control of the vehicle in the event of a technological failure or emergency.

“Times are changing,” says Jones (D-Camden/Gloucester). “If we are to be at the forefront of this technological revolution, we must have the necessary laws in place to make these innovations as safe and accessible as possible for all New Jerseyans.”

“Soon enough, self-driving cars will be commonplace on our streets,” says Mukherji (D-Hudson). “We must be ready and able to safely accommodate for these vehicles when the time comes, and this bill will provide the legal infrastructure for us to do just that.”