2024 Legislative Session Dates
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Key Takeaways:

  • During the 2023 state legislative sessions, Mississippi joined 29 other states and DC in adopting laws addressing autonomous vehicles.
  • Notably, Kentucky's Governor vetoed a similar law (KY HB 135) due to safety concerns and opposition from labor groups. 
  • In related news, the California Public Utilities Commission voted to permit certain companies to operate driverless AV taxis in San Francisco.

During the 2023 state legislative sessions, Mississippi joined 29 other states and the District of Columbia in adopting laws addressing autonomous vehicles (AVs). While most state AV laws have been enacted with little pushback, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) vetoed AV legislation that mirrored what many other states have done. On the regulatory side, the California Public Utility Commission recently voted to allow driverless taxis to operate in San Francisco, a major win for the industry. 

Autonomous Levels: A Primer

As states have considered and enacted AV laws, they’ve relied on the specific automation levels established by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). SAE established six automation levels:

  • Level 0: No automation with all driving tasks and functions being performed by a human driver.

  • Level 1-2: Driver assistance features, such as steering support, brake support, and lane centering.

  • Level 3: Human drivers do not have to perform any driving tasks when the automated driving system is engaged. However, when requested by the automated driving system, a human driver must take control of the vehicle. 

  • Level 4: The car can drive itself at all times under specific circumstances or in specific locations without any human being responsible for the driving tasks.

  • Level 5: The car can perform all driving tasks in any circumstance, in any location, without any human interaction.

Only levels 3 to 5 are considered “autonomous.”

New Mississippi Law on AVs

This session, Mississippi enacted legislation (HB 1003) allowing for the operation of Level 3 to 5 AVs. The Mississippi law:

  • Requires that vehicles be able to get themselves into a safe position if there is a failure of automated driving system and the vehicle cannot safely operate;

  • AVs must be able to comply with all state traffic and motor vehicle safety laws;

  • Manufacturers must submit a law enforcement interaction plan prior to allowing AVs to operate; and 

  • Operators must have sufficient insurance before operating an AV on public roads.  

Additionally, similar to other recently enacted AV laws, HB 1003 also allows for the operation of ride hailing networks that allow customers to order driverless taxis. These AV ride hailing networks would operate under the same laws and regulations as traditional taxi services and cannot operate without a license from the Mississippi Department of Insurance. Mississippi’s law went into effect on July 1, 2023.

Kentucky Governor Vetoes AV Legislation

As Mississippi enacted its law, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear vetoed a similar bill in Kentucky. The proposed law in Kentucky (KY HB 135) would also have allowed for the operation of Level 3 to 5 AVs and, similar to Mississippi and other recently enacted laws. The bill would have required AV manufacturers to submit a law enforcement interaction plan, proof of insurance, and ensure that AVs were capable of complying with all state traffic and motor vehicle laws. However, Governor Beshear stated that he felt HB 135 did not sufficiently address safety concerns and that more study was needed before allowing AVs to operate in Kentucky. Additionally, HB 135 was opposed by labor groups in Kentucky, which may also have played a factor in the governor’s decision to veto the measure. 

San Francisco Driverless Taxis

On August 10, 2023, the California Public Utilities Commissions (CPUC) voted 3-1 to allow certain companies to provide paid taxi services with AVs to passengers in San Francisco. These companies had previously been allowed to operate in San Francisco in limited circumstances and with safety drivers. This new approval permits these companies to operate driverless AV taxis throughout the city at all times. Additionally, these companies are also currently testing and offering taxi AV services in several other cities.

While the measure was ultimately passed, it faced substantial pushback from local residents, taxi drivers, and first responders. Individuals also expressed concern about the potential for the loss of transportation jobs as well as making taxi services harder to access for individuals who are physically disabled

Track State Autonomous Vehicle Legislation

MultiState’s team actively identifies, categorizes, and tracks all AV and technology policy legislation so that organizations, their government affairs teams, and other internal stakeholder teams have the information they need to navigate and effectively engage. If your organization would like to further track these issues, please contact us.