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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Following pedestrian death, Mich. lawmakers say no need to change course on self-driving cars

Governor Rick Snyder signing the bill that will allow for autonomous vehicles to be driven on public roads.
Ryan Burklow
Executive Office of Gov. Rick Snyder

Michigan lawmakers are comfortable with the state’s current driverless vehicle laws. In 2016, the governor signed into law regulations on autonomous vehicles. Those also allow for testing of self-driving cars on state roads.

But this week an autonomous vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona.

Governor Rick Snyder has championed autonomous vehicles for a while. He said they need to find out all the issues associated with the death, but he’s not sure it will stall development of autonomous vehicles.

“Events like this can cause setbacks,” he said. “And again, we should make an assessment. When someone gets killed it’s clearly important that there be a lot of review, analysis, to see what happened and what the causes were, and if we do need to make changes we should.”

Democrats and Republicans in the Senate aren’t calling for immediate changes to the law.

“Safety needs to be our number one concern,” said Sen. Jim Ananich, D-Flint. “I think we have to acknowledge this is the future so we need to continue to work on it until we get it right.”

Ananich said the framework lawmakers put in place in 2016, was a good start. While they should continue to look at things, he said they don’t need to, “jump to conclusions” and make changes right now.

Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, sponsored legislation the governor signed into law. He said he’s willing to consider amendments if something comes up. But right now, he doesn’t see a need for changes.

“I still have a lot of faith in the system,” he said. “I have a lot of faith in the technology and where it’s going to go in the future.”

Kowall said he’ll review the issue with multiple auto groups and a committee on mobility.

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