Preemption

On October 11, 2017, the California Department of Motor Vehicles published revised regulations that would allow companies to deploy fully driverless vehicles on California roads as early as 2018. Currently, autonomous vehicles on California roads must have a person with access to the controls.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 21 states have passed some type of driverless vehicle legislation.

Wired.com quotes Professor Bryant Walker Smith, of the University of South Carolina School of Law, as singling out California’s leadership role in crafting and implementing driverless vehicle regulations: “California is special…It’s really big, it’s where a lot of this action is happening, it has the track record to be thinking through these issues, and it’s pretty committed to them.”

California’s 2012 law that allows autonomous vehicles to operate in the state and authorizes the DMV to write driverless car regulations provides, as it must, that federal driverless car laws will supersede California laws if the two conflict.  The House has passed a bill, and the Senate is considering a similar version, which, if passed and signed into law would greatly expand federal preemption of driverless vehicle regulation.

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