Should NH require that operators get a special license before testing autonomous (or “self-driving”) vehicles on NH roadways?

Apr 07, 2018

BY: Citizens Count

The New Hampshire legislature is considering HB 314, a bill to regulate the testing and operation of driverless vehicles on New Hampshire roadways.

Currently in New Hampshire, there is no law banning or otherwise regulating self-driving cars. These leaves the legal status of those wishing to test such vehicles on New Hampshire roadways somewhat murky.

The bill would change this by creating an "autonomous vehicle testing license". Any group wishing to test self-driving cars on the open road would need to apply for the license and be approved before they could proceed.

Anyone applying for an autonomous vehicle testing license would be required to:

  • Tell the state where and when the testing will occur
  • Provide proof of insurance or self-insurance of at least $10,000,000
  • Only operate the vehicle for research and testing purposes
  • Prove the vehicle has already been tested in conditions similar to the open road
  • Comply with any federal regulations regarding driverless cars
  • Comply with normal vehicle safety standards
  • Provide law enforcement with instructions for how to interact with the vehicle should an accident occur
  • Register the vehicle and have a license plate visible

The license carries a $500 annual fee.

Planning for the future

Proponents of HB 314 say it is an important step in planning for the future. Since significant progress has been made in the development of autonomous vehicles over the last few years, many feel it is only a matter of time before automakers begin testing them on New Hampshire roads. This license would give human drivers peace of mind by assuring them that any driverless vehicles they encounter have been carefully vetted by state regulators.

Let the federal government regulate the cars

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has urged states to let the federal government handle regulating the safety, design, and performance aspects of driverless vehicles. They argue it is important to have consistent regulations regarding automated cars from state-to-state to avoiding creating confusion.

What do you think? Should NH require a special license to test driverless vehicles on NH roadways? Let us know in the comments below.

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