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Kentucky governor vetoes allowing AVs on state roads

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Legal | Market Trends
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Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has vetoed a bill that would’ve allowed fully autonomous vehicles on the state’s roads citing concerns about safety and security.

Calling House Bill 7 broad legislation, Beshear stated in his veto message that the bill “does not fully address questions about the safety and security of autonomous vehicles, nor does it implement a testing period that would require a licensed human driver to be behind the wheel.”

“Opening Kentucky’s highways and roads to fully autonomous vehicles should occur only after careful study and consideration and an extensive testing period with a licensed human being behind the wheel, which is what other states have done before passing such laws,” he wrote.

Kentucky legislators passed the legislation March 28 with a 20-18 vote on a phased-in basis with a “driver” behind the wheel during the first two years from the effective date. The effective date would’ve been July 31, 2026.

“They [AVs], in fact, are better than a human driver who gets tired, who may get intoxicated, who may get distracted by what’s going in the cab. Those autonomous vehicles will not,” said Sen. Gex Williams (R-District 20), a supporter of the bill, according to WEKU.

He noted that the bill applies to AVs that undergo more rigorous testing.

The bill also would’ve required a law enforcement interaction plan to be submitted to the Transportation Cabinet and the Department of Kentucky State Police before an AV could be operated on Kentucky roads without a human driver.

In October, ABI Research released its findings from research conducted on the current state of autonomous driving technology in conjunction with artificial intelligence (AI), high-performance computing, mapping, and location intelligence. ABI found that, by 2030, 69.3% of vehicles on the road will be equipped with SAE Level 2+ or higher features.

To consumers, autonomous vehicle (AV) features and driver supervision combinations seem radically different in terms of their value, cost, and overall impact on their personal mobility experience, according to the whitepaper.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has made it clear that it wants more safety technology in vehicles and according to survey results by Ghost Autonomy released in January, consumers do as well.

The Autonomous Vehicles: Consumer Trends and Attitudes Survey found that advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are consumers’ top priority when choosing their next car.

Eighty percent of respondents said safety systems played a pivotal role in their choice of vehicle and 61% said they’d accelerate their next purchase for breakthrough safety technology.

Respondents also said they would purchase a fully autonomous vehicle (AV) if it’s proven safe. Sixty-five percent said they’d want fully autonomous driving in the next 10 years.


Featured image: Illustration of automated driving (Credit: metamorworks/iStock)

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