background_fid.jpg
Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Plan To Open Idaho Roads To Driverless Cars Moves To State House

driverless_car.jpg
Steve Jurvetson
/
Flickr
A bill in the Idaho legislature would authorize developers to test self-driving vehicles and would establish safety requirements.

Idaho’s long stretches of open highway could be testing grounds for driverless cars under a bill the state Senate passed Thursday.

It’s similar to legislation awaiting a hearing in the Oregon legislature. A measure to allow testing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state appears to be dead for the year.

Idaho’s bill would authorize developers to test self-driving vehicles and would establish safety requirements.

Republican Sen. Steve Vick said the technology is coming rapidly.

“There are already companies in Idaho that are working to develop this technology,” he said. “And I think it’s important that we know that. We don’t want Idaho to be left in the dust.”

But the bill just squeaked by in the Idaho Senate, passing 18 to 17.

Lawmakers said the bill’s requirement of $1 million in liability insurance wouldn’t be enough, given the potential for damage or injury in a failed test drive. Oregon’s legislation calls for $5 million in liability insurance.

The sponsor of Idaho’s bill said he initially considered $5 million, but was told that figure would prompt driverless car developers to look elsewhere.

The bill now heads to the Idaho House.