The Business Council of New York State, the state’s leading statewide business and industry association, strongly supports the enactment of this legislation that would, essentially, allow New York State to enter the market of autonomous vehicle technology by modifying §1226 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL). This bill would amend the VTL requirement to have at least one hand on the wheel unless an automation system, “as defined in SAE J3016 as periodically revised, is engaged to perform steering functions.” This national standard has been adopted by the United States Department of Transportation.
Current law requires a vehicle operator have at least one hand or, in the case of a physically disabled person, at least one prosthetic device or aid on the steering mechanism at all times when the motor vehicle is in motion. This provision makes it illegal to employ technologies that require drivers to remove both hands from the steering wheel when automated parking and driving functions are utilized. Similar technologies are being explored that will take over other functions leading towards more fully autonomous vehicles such as automated highway driving. Without the repeal of this section of law enabling hands free applications - something already undertaken by the other forty-nine states - New York State will lag behind in the exploration of new automotive technologies. These technologies provide systems of multiple redundant sensors to create a 360 degree field of visions to guide vehicles. Future developments could lead to a safer vehicle and decrease accidents attributed to human error. Failure to repeal this section of law limits consumer choice, hinders the development of technologies in New York State, and precludes the entry of new vehicles employing these technologies.
For these reasons The Business Council urges the passage of this legislation.