Self-driving cars are one of the biggest technological advancements expected to take place in the near future, and Michigan recently became the first state to create comprehensive self-driving rules and regulations. Because Ford, Chrysler, and GM are all located in Detroit, the state has been at the forefront of the development of self-driving cars.
In December of 2016, governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, signed four bills that regulate the development, testing, and sale of self-driving vehicles. He signed the bills at the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn and expressed his excitement, saying, “We should be proud we’re leading the world, right here in Michigan.”
In Michigan, self-driving cars are legal for testing and use on public roads. The new laws also permit road testing of self-driving commercial trucks, although each truck must have a person inside in case something goes wrong. Michigan is the only state that does not require a driver in an automated vehicle and the only state that has legalized self-driving ride-sharing cars. However, according to the bills that were recently signed into law, only vehicle manufacturers can operate self-driving cars. Companies like Uber and Lyft will not be able to launch self-driving cars in Michigan.
Google has already taken notice of Michigan’s forward-thinking self-driving car laws. To test vehicles, the company bought land in Novi, which is about 20 miles north of Detroit. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration views Google as an automaker, so they should be able to put self-driving cars on the road in Michigan.
One important matter regarding self-driving cars is insurance. In Michigan, if a self-driving car gets itself into an accident, the automaker must take full liability. Because self-driving cars are supposed to avoid accidents, if an accident occurs because of a malfunction with the automated vehicle, the manufacturer will be found fully at fault.
Snyder says that these new bills allow manufacturers to test self-driving vehicles without inconvenient regulations. Self-driving cars are much safer than cars with drivers, and they could potentially save lives. Snyder supports implementing testing and implementing self-driving cars as efficiently as possible to make the roads in Michigan safer. He says, “It makes Michigan a place where, particularly for the auto industry, it’s a good place to do work.”