House Minority Leader Gene Ward
House Minority Leader Gene Ward

Rep. Gene Ward (R-Hawaii Kai – Kalama Valley) has introduced legislation that will make legal the operation of autonomous cars in Hawaii. The bill, modeled after a Nevada law that allowed Google to test its driverless cars in the state, addresses legal issues that may arise when no human driver is behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

 “In road tests conducted on the West Coast with a driverless vehicle for over 100,000 miles, there was not a single accident according to my discussions with Google executives,” Ward said.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the number of deaths on American highways hovers around 40000 annually.

Google’s driverless cars use artificial intelligence software, global positioning systems and sensors to navigate. Because machines don’t become angry, distracted or tired, and because they can be aware of more things at once, they can potentially operate vehicles more safely than human drivers. The two accidents that Google’s driverless cars have been involved in since 2010 were caused by human drivers.

Autonomous cars that are safer than cars driven by humans can be built to be lighter, increasing fuel efficiency, and travel closer together, increasing road capacity. “If we want Hawaii to be energy independent, and if we want safer and less congested roads, then we need legislation that paves the way for technological advances like driverless cars,” Ward concluded.

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