New law governs driverless vehicle operation on Iowa roads

DES MOINES — Iowa is joining 29 states in creating some basic rules of the road for vehicles without a human behind the wheel. Representative Ashley Hinson of Marion said although it may be years before driverless or fully “autonomous” vehicles are in use, it’s time to start planning.

“The wheels of technology are turning fast, moving forward and vehicle safety is definitely in question for the future and this bill speaks to many of those things,” Hinson said during House debate of the bill.

The new law will require driverless cars and trucks to carry liability insurance. The manufacturer must certify that all applicable federal safety standards have been met on the vehicle, unless an exception has been granted. Hinson predicted lawmakers will have to address other issues surrounding driverless vehicles.

“We’re going to have to talk about lane striping, work zones, data sharing practices, education and outreach because, let’s face it, there is a lot of that that needs to happen before these vehicles are on the road,” Hinson said. “And I would anticipate there will be some further conversations about liability as these vehicles come to fruition.”

The new law, which goes into effect July 1st, specifies that driverless public buses will authorized — when the technology is ready for the public streets and roads. The governor approved the new lawlast Friday.