tate legislation that would make it legal to operate self-driving cars on Illinois roads — and prohibit municipalities from banning the technology — took a step forward in Springfield last week.
The new law would allow fully autonomous vehicles to drive on Illinois highways, whether or not a human driver is physically present in the vehicle. The automated driving system would be considered the operator of the vehicle when it comes to determining whether relevant traffic or motor vehicle laws are being obeyed. The bill would provide “that liability for incidents involving a fully autonomous vehicle shall be determined under existing product liability law or common law negligence principles.” And it would preempt home rule powers, so that if, say, Chicago decided that self-driving cars are unsafe for hectic downtown streets, City Council wouldn’t be able to pass an ordinance prohibiting their use in certain areas.
Autonomous vehicles have the potential to greatly improve safety on our streets by eliminating the most dangerous part of a car, “the nut behind the wheel,” as the old joke goes. However, many have argued that the technology isn’t ready for prime time.
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