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Regulatory framework for autonomous vehicles gets review from Kentucky lawmakers

Left to right in legislative committee-Rep. Ken Upchurch, Rep Josh Bray, James Higdon with AVIA
Stu Johnson
Left to right in legislative committee-Rep. Ken Upchurch, Rep Josh Bray, James Higdon with AVIA

The future movement of vehicles along Kentucky highways got a hearing in Frankfort during the now-completed General Assembly session. A House bill to establish a regulatory framework for autonomous vehicles got last-day approval in the State Senate. Senate committee members heard from James Higdon with the Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association. He said autonomous vehicles in California understand how pigeons in the road behave relative to those birds in Arizona who act in a different manner.

“I know that sounds like such a silly example, but I hope it does display the amount of technology, the amount of thoughtfulness that goes into every one of these before they are on the road.”

The primary discussions pertained to commercial trucks and large vehicles,” said Higdon.

Speaking against the bill was Bill Londrigan, president of the State AFL-CIO. The union leader said there’s no substantial study recording the safety record of AV’s. And he said the driver job losses could prove to be substantial.

“There’s not been one reference to the impact that introducing and expanding the use of driverless trucks, buses, and delivery vans would have on the jobs of those drivers who would lose their jobs as the result of House Bill 135,” said Londrigan.

Bill Sponsor Josh Bray of Mount Vernon said the autonomous technology is coming to Kentucky. He said the vehicles are safe, can’t speed, and must pull over if weather conditions create difficult travel. James Higdon testified that 93% of vehicle crashes are caused by human error.

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Stu Johnson*
Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.