Oklahoma law authorizes autonomous vehicles

October 24, 2022

Keith Goble

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A new Oklahoma law that is days away from taking effect permits the use of fully autonomous vehicles on state roadways. The rule also applies to commercial vehicle operators.

Gov. Kevin Stitt this spring signed into law a bill to create the framework for the state to regulate autonomous vehicles.

Sen. Paul Rosino, R-Oklahoma City, has said the new rule will protect the public and roadways.

The new law authorizes a person to operate a fully autonomous vehicle without a human driver provided that the automated driving system is engaged and the vehicle meets certain conditions outlined in the rule.

Before an autonomous vehicle can be operated on state roadways, a law enforcement interaction plan must be submitted to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety. The plan must show law enforcement how to communicate with a fleet support specialist who is available during the times the vehicle is in operation.

Additionally, the plan must show how to safely remove the vehicle from the roadway, how to recognize whether the vehicle is in autonomous mode, proof of insurance coverage equal to at least $1 million, and any additional information the manufacturer or owner deems necessary.

States jump on board

Oklahoma is one of 30 states to allow autonomous vehicles through legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Another six states permit testing of affected vehicles that operate without a driver through executive order. Five more states allow autonomous vehicles via legislation and executive order.

“Oklahoma is the only state on the I-40 corridor that isn’t already allowing AVs. That places our state at an economic and public safety disadvantage,” Rosino said in previous remarks. “This legislation will make sure we know who is operating AVs and make sure they have proper insurance and safety protocols.”

OKC added to autonomous truck route

CEVA Logistics and Kodiak Robotics Inc. announced this spring they would team to deliver freight via autonomous trucks between Dallas-Fort Worth and Oklahoma City.

“Kodiak and CEVA are focused on servicing Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and Oklahoma City, because they cover some of the richest freight corridors in the U.S.,” Kodiak founder and CEO Don Burnette previously stated.

CEVA Logistics is a third-party logistics company based in Houston, and Kodiak Robotics Inc. is a self-driving trucking company based in Mountain View, Calif.

Driver shortage claim

Rosino also highlighted the narrative of a truck driver shortage to tout the benefits of the new rule.

“We don’t have enough truck drivers as it is. If we don’t allow AVs, we’re still going to have supply-chain issues in our state and country,” Rosino stated. “These vehicles are safe, and this legislation will help our state take advantage of this technology as so many others are already doing.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association challenges driver shortage claims. Instead, OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh says trucking suffers from overcapacity – too many trucks, trailers, and drivers.

“Wages, working conditions, and rampant driver turnover are proof of this,” Pugh says. LL

More Land Line coverage of news from Oklahoma.

 

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Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.