“Backseat driver” takes on a new meaning with the advancement of self-driving vehicles. These vehicles allow commuters to get to their destination without having to pay attention to the road. Instead of dealing with rush hour traffic every morning, the stop and go, and backup for miles of vehicles all heading to their morning destinations, owners of autonomous vehicles will be able to hop in their car, read the paper, text message, nap, or do whatever they want to do while the driverless car takes them to where they want to go.
But along with new technology comes the need for new laws and regulations to address legal issues that surround self-driving vehicles. Many states have already passed laws that cover self-driving vehicles and North Carolina lawmakers are currently working on this state’s.
House Bill 469: Regulation of Fully Autonomous Vehicles was introduced and passed the North Carolina House in April of this year by a vote of 119 to 1. The bill was then sent to the Senate for review and vote and is currently with that chamber’s Transportation Committee.
According to the details of the bill, a self-driving vehicle is defined as a vehicle which has the ability to perform with tactical functions and real-time operation on roads and in traffic, without needed driver assistance. The bill requires that the operator of a self-driving vehicle must be a licensed driver. The vehicle must also be registered.
The bill also bars minors who are under the age of 12-years-old from riding in a self-driving vehicle unless there is also an adult present. All passengers would be required to follow the state’s current seat belt law.
The law also states that if for any reason the vehicle is left unattended, the motor is to be shut off.
If the vehicle was in a crash, the operator would be responsible for stopping and contacting law enforcement. Operators who fail to do so will be subject to the same punishments as vehicle drivers in the same circumstances.