July 31, 2019 — Governor Stitt signed visionary legislation that sets the trajectory for the regulation of automated personal vehicles on state roads for the future. “Although fully self-driving cars may still be a decade away from mainstream adoption,” said Mark Madeja, AAA Oklahoma spokesperson, “cars with advanced automation are already prevalent.” This transition to vehicles equipped for highly-automated operations will continue for the rest of most current drivers’ lives as newer models are purchased.
Transportation stakeholders surround Senator Michael Bergstrom and Governor Kevin Stitt as he signs SB365.
Authored by Senator Micheal Bergstrom (R-Adair), SB365 creates the Oklahoma Driving Automation System Uniformity Act to harmonize rules and regulations across the state. Its aim is to minimize confusion among motorists, law enforcement and first responders. Representative Ryan Martinez (R-Edmond) carried the bill through House proceedings.
“Without uniform state regulation, municipalities might create different regulations that could cause confusion for motorists and jeopardize the very safety that these advances offer,” Madeja said. Uniform state regulations have been urged by AAA, pointing to the challenges drivers - especially those who are not local – will face in staying fully educated on the differences in laws as they move from town to town.
Safety Potential with Automated Features
Government and safety experts estimate that the majority of wrecks occurring on roads today can be avoided by vehicles that are connected with sensors to other vehicles and surroundings and which operate autonomously. Human error contributes to 90% of today’s crashes, according to AAA research.
AAA found that technology now standard on most new vehicles could have prevented crashes that took nearly 9,500 lives in 2016. At that rate, some 188 of those killed in Oklahoma crashes that year could potentially have lived if the technology had been available and used correctly by drivers.
Technologies factored into the study included blind spot monitoring systems, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assist, included on 2019 models offered by the vast majority of manufacturers. Many offered these featured in their earlier models.
“When properly utilized, these technologies have the potential to prevent 40 percent of all vehicle crashes and nearly 30 percent of traffic deaths. However, driver understanding and proper use is crucial in reaping the full safety benefits of these systems,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
“This law positions Oklahoma as a progressive state in the rapidly changing landscape of advancing vehicle technology,” Madeja said. Oklahoma join 32 other states and the District of Columbia with foundational laws addressing autonomous vehicles.