Florida Governor Signs Bill Allowing AVs Without Human Safety Drivers

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
florida governor signs bill allowing avs without human safety drivers

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed CS/HB 311: Autonomous Vehicles into law on Thursday, claiming the state has effectively removed “unnecessary obstacles that hinder the development of autonomous vehicle technology,” including human safety operators.

Provided that a vehicle meets all insurance requirements, Florida will no longer require AVs to operate with a flesh-and-blood person behind the wheel. However, those that do remain in the driver’s seat, will also be exempt from the state’s distracted driving laws.

“Signing this legislation paves the way for Florida to continue as a national leader in transportation innovation and technological advancement,” said Governor DeSantis in a statement. “I would like to thank the bill sponsors, Senator Jeff Brandes and Representative Jason Fischer, for their work in making Florida the most autonomous vehicle-friendly state in the country.”

The bill signing took place at the new SunTrax facility in Polk County, Florida, a site devoted to the research and development of the latest transportation technologies. DeSantis and company claimed that the bill, along with SunTrax’s research, would help ensure the state can lead the charge in terms of autonomous research for the foreseeable future.

“I applaud the Governor for his continued commitment to invest in emerging transportation technologies,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault. “Autonomous vehicles are the way of the future and Florida is leading the charge through the research, testing and development of autonomous vehicles. And now with this bill signed into law by Governor DeSantis, Florida is ready to lead the nation with this innovative transportation advancement.”

Florida’s role as a no-fault insurance state could help make the process of insuring AVs a little easier, but the rules and liability issues surrounding self-driving cars are still pretty foggy. Insurers don’t have a concrete plan in place for autonomous vehicles; they’re examining the issue while federal and state governments do the same. However, with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety anticipating 3.5 million self-driving vehicles on U.S. roads by 2025, time is of the essence.

[Image: Florida Governor’s Press Office]

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  • Akear Akear on Jun 14, 2019

    All this really does not matter in the long run since autonomous vehicles will never see the light of day as a main stream technology. Let those who are jumping on the autonomous band wagon get the hype out of their system. I just hope not too many die in pursuit of this dead-end technology. I don't mind automation taking over when a driver falls asleep or is facing a medical crisis. This technology could be useful in those rare emergencies. However, a fully autonomous car just is not in the cards. If you went into a showroom and saw a vehicle without a steering wheel wouldn’t that make you just a bit nervous.

    • Chocolatedeath Chocolatedeath on Jun 14, 2019

      The problem with what you're saying about going to the showroom is the fact that if I am going to a showroom and all they have are vehicles with no steering wheels then really I'm not driving so therefore I don't actually need a choice. at this point to me is like picking out very expensive socks, they serve a purpose for aesthetics but you don't really get any pleasure out of them.

  • Mike Beranek Mike Beranek on Jun 14, 2019

    Thank God I live in the north and won't have to worry about these things for a very long time. A reason to love snow?

    • Tele Vision Tele Vision on Jun 16, 2019

      Agreed from an Albertan. These articles about autonomous vehicles crack me up. I've had to punch through 18" snow drifts on my way to work; dodge deer and elk and even a moose; and climb back up onto the road after some idiot, who was too scared to move over, ran me off into the ditch at 40 MPH. Let's see a Google blobcar do any of that.

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