LA City Council considering driverless car rules – NBC Los Angeles

The Los Angeles City Council is considering regulations to driverless vehicles following persistent public concern over safety.

At its Tuesday meeting, the council was expected to consider safety recommendations and the backing of three state bills aimed at providing municipalities more power to regulate autonomous vehicles and gain access to testing data.

The recommendations come after the city council adopted a motion introduced by councilmembers Traci Park and Bob Blumenfield in November 2023, calling for more legislation that would better empower Los Angeles elected officials to regulate AVs.

The autonomous ride-hailing service Waymo already offers services in San Francisco and Phoenix, and has since been growing to Austin and Los Angeles. Beginning in October 2023, the company has been testing some of the autonomous vehicles, or AVs, in Los Angeles.

In March 2024, the California Public Utilities Commission authorized Waymo to expand its operations in the Los Angeles area. Soon after, the company launched its services in a 63-square-mile area from Santa Monica to downtown LA.

Waymo, which has been mapping various Los Angeles neighborhoods such as Koreatown and Westwood for years, says that more than 15,000 rides have occurred since then.

Concerns over AVs include their potential to block roads, malfunction, and make traffic congestion worse. The Los Angeles Times reported that a Waymo vehicle struck a closing gate at USC, causing some minor scratches.

Waymo has not been involved in any major accidents, but Cruise — another AV company owned by General Motors — sparked outcry last year when an AV dragged a pedestrian who had been hit by another car for 20 feet, after failing to detect them. Cruise was also accused in a close call involving children in a sidewalk.

Reports from Waymo say that its vehicles experience an 85% reduction in injury-causing crashes and a 57% reduction in police-reported crash rates compared to human-driven vehicles.

California has become one of the largest testing grounds for self-driving vehicle companies, like Waymo. John Cádiz Klemack reports for Today in LA on Tuesday June 11, 2024.

In California, there are already some regulations on AVs in place. For example, SB 1298 — signed into law by then-Governor Jerry Brown in 2012 — grants the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) the power to regulate the testing and deployment of AVs.

Additionally, in 2018, the California Public Utilities Commission began two AV pilot programs that allow for AV operation with the requirement that permits by obtained by the DMV, and that the vehicles be in compliance with DMV regulations.

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