The state Senate Transportation Committee unanimously passed legislation sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean to make New Jersey a hub for the development, testing and implementation of driverless vehicles.
In June 2013, Senator Kean introduced Senate bill 734, which would make New Jersey the third U.S. state —and the first in the densely populated, fast-paced North East Region — to permit the testing of and licensing for autonomous vehicles.
“New Jersey’s workforce and economy, has a lot to gain from being at the forefront of such innovation, beyond that the overall implementation of driverless vehicles stands to make our roadways much safer and less congested,” said Kean (R-Union, Somerset, Morris).
Senator Kean noted that about 90 percent of traffic crashes are caused by human error and the implementation of driverless vehicles promises to drastically decrease traffic-related deaths and injuries. The Senator added that autonomous vehicles can also offer a more sufficient and flexible avenue of transportation for the disabled and senior citizens who may not have access to public transportation or who may not be fit to drive.
“This legislation sends a strong message to innovators and job creators that New Jersey is not afraid of being the home to new thinking and the way of the future,” Kean said. “As we heard from the testimonies of Mr. Kornhauser and Mr. Mathur today, this legislation is essential to attract and retain new jobs, innovation and entrepreneurship in New Jersey, as driverless vehicle efforts here continue to progress.”
In October, Senator Nicholas Sacco (D-Bergen, Hudson) signed on as co-prime sponsor of this legislation, which charges the state Motor Vehicle Commission with establishing standards for licensing autonomous vehicles, or any operated by artificial intelligence, sensors, GPS systems or any other self-driving technologies. The Commission would establish regulations authorizing the use of autonomous vehicles, and create rules covering safety, testing, insurance, registration and operation.
S-734 is one of the New Jersey Senate Republicans’ solutions to make New Jersey the Place to Work and Prosper, and it is the first bill to be advanced from the Senate Republican’s “Fostering Innovation” package, which was rolled out by Senator Kean at Bell Labs earlier this month.