Lawmakers pave way in Tennessee for self-driving cars

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Get ready for self-driving cars on Tennessee roads.

That was the idea behind a comprehensive bill passed this session by state lawmakers dealing with what the world is starting call “autonomous vehicles” or AVs.

Seeing a car with no driver will take a while for us to get used to or be seen in Tennessee, but Representative William Lamberth wants to put our state in the legislative driver’s seat when it happens.

“We changed many of our laws that would allow autonomous vehicles to be deployed here on Tennessee highways,” said Lamberth who sponsored the legislation. “At the same time we will require a lot from anyone who would own an autonomous vehicle or would manufacture one here.”

Automakers like GM are just one group testing and exploring the AVs, but bringing those vehicles to Tennessee needed questions answered.

So as to things like liability, lawmakers said owners of a self-driving car would need a five million dollar insurance policy.

What if a child is left unbuckled in a driver less car? Lawmakers said it would be the parents who would get tickets.

And would you need a driver’s license? Not if your car is fully autonomous.

Answering those questions added amendment after amendment to the bill.

“You have to make sure that the bill still protects us from someone trying to rush technology out there on the road, so that’s why (the bill) is so thick,” added Rep. Lamberth. “We are ready for these cars now. We have got the statutory framework in place so that these companies can…sell these vehicles in Tennessee the moment they are guaranteed safe.”

Autonomous vehicle supporters say once the car is safe, things like drunk or distracted driving might be a thing of the past.