Annapolis, MD – Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration is pushing for legislation that would effectively transfer regulatory power over autonomous vehicles to the agency and the state police. Their argument is that the self-driving technology could improve safety and decrease human error on Maryland roadways.
Motor Vehicle Administration representative Christine Nizer advocated for the bill before the state Senate earlier in January. Nizer argued that the bill was designed to be broad in order to provide flexibility. Self-driving technology is moving forward so rapidly that the bill needs to be flexible in order to keep up, she believes.
“There’d be a robust process to make sure they are safe before they are put on the road,” Nizer explained. She added that any autonomous vehicles would be rigorously tested in private facilities before ever hitting public roads.
Officials report that approximately 90% of car crashes are caused by human error, and self-driving car advocates believe the sooner autonomous cars can hit the road, the better. Almost 63% of people will be involved in a drunk driving accident at some point in their lives, and one of the leading arguments for the new legislation in Maryland is the reduction of these types of crashes.
Ragina Cooper Averella of AAA explained that it’s no longer a matter of if autonomous vehicles will come to Maryland, rather it’s a matter of when. Officials have reported that if all goes well and this legislation is approved, autonomous cars could be on Maryland’s roads as early as 2018.
However, some details in the legislation will still need to be ironed out. In addition, there are many people across the state who are still wary of the self-driving technology. One woman from Annapolis told CBS Baltimore, “I just don’t trust it,” adding that she doesn’t even trust her own vehicle’s back up camera.
Still others are looking forward to a future with autonomous vehicles. Driver Ryan How simply pointed to the numbers when asked his opinion: “All the actual statistics show its safer than actual drivers,” he said.
Regardless of any one driver’s views, Maryland politicians clearly feel that autonomous vehicles are important avenues to explore.