New Louisiana Regulations Permit Self-Driving Trucks
Many of the items that we use in our daily lives have at one point seen the inside of an 18-wheeler or other large truck. But while these vehicles have been paramount to receiving everything from produce to clothing in a reliable and timely manner, their sheer size makes them a danger for other motorists (and at times pedestrians). An accident involving one of these commercial vehicles can culminate in serious injury or even death.
Driverless Commercial Vehicle Technology
Recently Louisiana became one of twenty-nine states that have enacted autonomous vehicle laws. However, it is one of the first laws in any state that regulates self-driving commercial motor vehicles, despite the fact that fully autonomous trucks are unlikely to be ready for commercial use for almost another decade. Autonomous trucks are expected on highways by 2027. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only nine other states have passed laws permitting public use of driverless technology.
Per the new law, autonomous trucks are allowed statewide so long as they comply with all federal and state traffic laws, have liability coverage of at least two million dollars, and are correctly registered. Under the regulations, the person or company operating the truck can be issued a ticket or other penalty should they fail to follow the law. Furthermore, if an accident occurs, the vehicle will be obligated to remain at the scene, with someone representing the company responsible for contacting law enforcement.
A History of Support
According to a 2016 Louisiana State University report, “The general consensus is to place as little restriction and regulation on the development of autonomous vehicles as possible at the moment so that innovation is inhibited as little as possible.” This does not come as much of a surprise considering that in 2018 the state passed a bill authorizing “platooning,” or the use of electronic coupling of more than one truck in order to drive in sync. However, this was only considered semi-autonomous, as the trucks followed and mimicked the leading vehicle, which is still operated by a human being.
The new law went into effect on August 1 in an effort to get ahead of the technology and encourage the growth of autonomous vehicles in Louisiana. While the support from Louisiana lawmakers was nearly unanimous, one of their other reasons for passing this legislation is the simple fact that change is inevitable.
“It’s coming. I’m fearful of it, too,” said House Transportation Committee Chairman Terry Landry. “We can either get on this train or we can get left behind at the depot, because it’s coming.”August 7th, 2019