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How Six U.S. States are Welcoming Self-Driving Vehicles

Jamie Boone, Consumer Technology Association

As the promise of self-driving vehicles (SDVs) is closer to reality, many state legislators are working to open their roads, so SDV’s can create new jobs and reduce highway fatalities. Through 2017, 24 U.S. states have taken action on SDVs, and 23 of those states have enacted laws that allow testing of this technology or directed agencies to study its effects in local transportation systems.

Here is a closer look at the states removing regulatory barriers for new businesses and allowing testing and deployment of SDVs.


The state government welcomed SDVs with two bills: One allows vehicles operated by automated driving systems to hit the streets, and the second permits the vehicles to operate on public roads in platoons. Those developments boosted Tennessee’s grade in Self-Driving Vehicles on CTA’s 2018 U.S. Innovation Scorecard from a ‘D’ in 2017 to a ‘B’ this year — the most substantial increase by any state in the category.


Several states have turned to committees of experts to address the challenges of introducing self-driving technologies. In Delaware — a critical stretch of the I-95 corridor between Wall Street and Washington — an executive order tasked a working group with creating strategies to prepare the state’s roadways for self-driving vehicles.


In 2017, a bill established a smart transportation advisory committee. This year, Ohio kept the momentum toward becoming a hub for self-driving technologies when Gov. John Kasich issued an executive order creating DriveOhio – a center that will bring together manufacturers, researchers, regulators and other stakeholders to support SDV development.


One of the first states to welcome SDVs in 2012, Florida regulators are also showing a willingness to work with industry leaders. The state’s forward-thinking attitude led a self-driving taxi program to ferry senior citizens around the largest retirement community in the nation.

North Carolina

The state addressed SDVs in 2017 with a commonsense law establishing rules for operating fully self-driving vehicles on state highways. The bill - HB 469 - specifies that a driver’s license is not required for an SDV operator, preempts local rules, establishes the Fully Autonomous Vehicle Committee and allows platooning. 


In June 2017, Gov. Brian Sandoval signed a bill setting clear guidelines for self-driving vehicles testing. And at CES® 2018, a  fleet of self-driving Lyft vehicles wowed attendees in Las Vegas.

For more information on how states are opening their roads to self-driving vehicles check out our 2018 U.S. Innovation Scorecard.