The Business Council of New York State, Inc., the leading state business and industry trade association comprised of over 2,500 members supports the expansion of, and demonstration projects for, autonomous vehicles in New York State.
This budget proposal will empower the state commissioner of the department of motor vehicles (DMV) to “approve demonstrations and tests consisting of the operation of a motor vehicle equipped with autonomous vehicle technology while such motor vehicle is engaged in the use of such technology on public highways within this state.” This demonstration and testing will enable state officials to assess the “development of autonomous vehicle technology and to begin identifying potential impacts of such technology on safety, traffic control, traffic enforcement, emergency services, and such other areas” of importance to state officials and others charged with traffic safety.
The pilot testing project has several safety checks in place. The project will be limited to licensed drivers, must take place under the supervision of the DMV, and the vehicles must be insured to a proscribed amount under law. A full report on the project must be submitted to the governor and legislative leaders, including the two houses’ transportation committee chairs, every June 1.
Further, this proposal eliminates §1226 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) requiring drivers to have at least one hand on the steering mechanism at all times when in motion. 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.
The repeal of this section §1226 of the VTL enabling hands free applications - something already undertaken by the other forty-nine states – allows New York State to make up the ground it has lost in the exploration and use of these new technologies authorized under this demonstration project.