Senate bill would require drivers for self-driving trucks in Delaware

By Logan B. Anderson
Posted 6/16/24

DOVER – The Delaware state Senate took measures on Thursday to make roads in the First State safer in the future.

Sen. Spiros Mantzavinos, D-Elsmere, offered a bill that would require …

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Senate bill would require drivers for self-driving trucks in Delaware


DOVER — The Delaware State Senate took measures Thursday aimed at making roads in the First State safer.

Sen. Spiros Mantzavinos, D-Elsmere, offered a bill that would require autonomous freight and delivery trucks in Delaware have a licensed driver on board to prevent potential hazards.

Senate Bill 258 with Senate Amendments 1 and 2 would prohibit any autonomous vehicle with a gross weight of 10,001 pounds or more from being operated on a Delaware highway for testing purposes, transporting goods,or transporting passengers without a human safety operator being physically present within th autonomous vehicle.

“In recent years, there’s been a dramatic rise in autonomous vehicles. And you’re starting to see a lot more use of robo taxis. Out of concern for safety, many jurisdictions that originally permitted autonomous passenger vehicles are now rethinking their policies,” Sen. Mantzavinos said Thursday from the Senate floor.

As an example, Sen. Mantzavinos Phoenix recently reversing its self-driving car laws.

According to the Elsmere senator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently announced an investigation into an autonomous vehicle company after receiving reports of its autonomous vehicles either crashing or violating traffic laws.

“As the autonomous vehicle industry is evolving, we’re starting to see a focus now on investment in automated trucks and delivery vehicles, especially since the pandemic, and you are seeing a number of companies that are producing and developing these freight trucks and testing them out in the Southwest and larger states like California and Texas,” he said.

In 2021, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration mandated that all incidents involving autonomous vehicles to report crashes and malfunctions as part of a larger investigation and to increase transparency.

“What this bill does … It doesn’t ban the use of autonomous trucks, it doesn’t prohibit it. It just says if you’re going to have these on our roadways, you need a human safety officer in it,” Sen. Mantzavinos said.

The measure, which received support from both sides of the aisle, is patterned after laws in other states.

“Similar legislation like this has been introduced in Washington State, Texas, New York, New Mexico, Nebraska, Massachusetts, Maryland, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Florida and California over the last two years,” Sen. Mantzavinos said.

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