Autonomous Vehicles Task Force Recommends Easing State Regulations, Consumer Education Campaign

By Brendan Kennedy

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Reducing burdensome state regulations that limit the testing of automated vehicle technology and developing a consumer education campaign on the capabilities of autonomous vehicles are among the recommendations of a New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) task force formed last year to study the issue.

In a report released this week, the NYSBA Task Force on Autonomous Vehicles and the Law found that, at this time, New York can continue to rely upon established laws to govern the driverless vehicles, but that regulations should be changed to better position New York State as an attractive location for autonomous vehicle development and testing.

“The work done by this task force is tremendously important for our profession,” said Henry M. Greenberg, president of the New York State Bar Association. “This is yet another case of our members addressing cutting-edge issues important to the profession and public. We hope that this report can serve as a resource for policymakers.”

“Autonomous vehicles have the potential to provide significant societal benefits,” said University at Buffalo School of Law Dean Aviva Abramovsky, who chaired the task force. “The increased mobility and independence that the elderly and disabled persons are some ways this technology will be used to better people’s lives.”

Over the past 10 months, task force members have met with automotive and technology experts familiar with this highly specialized and rapidly developing area. The task force report will be presented to the NYSBA House of Delegates, the association’s governing body, at its meeting on April 4.

The report recommends:

  • New York State should position itself as an attractive autonomous vehicle testing location by decreasing regulatory burdens and incentivizing a collaborative relationship between industry, state and research institutes.
  • New York should develop public education campaigns so consumers can get an accurate depiction of what autonomous vehicle technology can do, such as increasing mobility for the disabled, elderly and people in rural areas.
  • Expertise within New York should be leveraged by emphasizing computer simulation for testing.
  • New York can continue to rely upon existing laws as the emerging technology develops or until a situation or case shows a new law needs to be created.
  • NYSBA should support legislation sponsored by State Senator Tim Kennedy (D)-Buffalo to establish a task force on automated vehicle technology (S.6014).

The report cites New York’s climate, terrain and cities with state universities as ideal places for testing to commence. Currently testing on public roads in New York can only be done under the direct supervision of the New York State Police, a burden the task force concludes has resulted in manufacturers electing to test their products in other states.

According to the report, a robust public education campaign developed by New York to avoid an over-reliance on automated vehicle technology would provide consumers with an accurate depiction of the technology. The task force recommends highlighting the benefits automated vehicles will provide for the elderly and disabled, as well as those in rural areas of the state. It also cites how this technology is already being used to deliver food, medicine and health care.

About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, the Association has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.

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Contact: Brendan Kennedy
[email protected]
845-216-8194

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