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Self-driving car bill approved by Gov. Doug Ducey

The first bill to impose any regulation on the self-driving car industry was signed by the Gov. Doug Ducey on March 24.

PHOENIX — The first bill to impose any regulations on the self-driving car industry was approved by Gov. Doug Ducey on Wednesday. 

H.B. 2813 adds self-driving cars to state driving law. Among other things, it spells out what a self-driving car must do after a crash and that it should follow the same rules of the road as cars with drivers. 

Those are things that have never been on the books, despite Arizona having self-driving cars for more than 10 years. 

“This legislation provides for a safety framework," said Ariel Wolf with the Self-Driving Coalition, an industry group with members like Waymo, Cruise and Kodiak.

“The industry here in Arizona is really in a close partnership with the Arizona Department of Transportation, and law enforcement," Wolf said. 

Companies do have to tell DPS how to safely interact with their cars, but they don't have to tell the state anything about how the cars work. 

They’re also not required to tell the state how often the cars fail.

In 2018, an Uber self driving car hit and killed a woman crossing the street in Tempe. The safety driver was looking down and the car didn't stop on its own.

The NTSB found problems in Ubers technology culture and what they call the state's insufficient oversight. The NTSB wanted a commission to oversee safety plans.

Arizona has a similar committee, but it's only met once in its entire existence. It met in 2016 and never convened another meeting. 

Up until this week there had been no new regulations on self-driving cars since 2018.

HB-2813 does not add any new safety reporting requirements for self-driving car companies. 

“This is really sort of playing around the edges," ASU professor Andrew Maynard said. 

"And it's sort of saying, well we've got this different type of vehicle on the road, let's just make sure that the legislation covers that different type of vehicle."

Maynard studies self-driving cars at ASU. He said the bill isn't perfect, but it does at least lay out the basics. 

"What happens if it's in a crash?" Maynard said, "What happens if somebody gets killed or gets injured? What happens if you've got a minor in the car and something happens? So it's just essentially building clarity in where hasn't been clarity in the past.”

“And it's a step that's way better than nothing," Maynard said. 

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