KS lawmakers discuss changes needed for self-driving cars

Posted at 7:23 PM, Jan 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-17 23:22:11-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With fully autonomous cars getting closer to a reality on metro roads in the years ahead, Kansas leaders are working to prepare the state for the emerging technology.

Car and industry experts told state leaders that they expect the majority of cars on the road to be "fully automated" by 2035.

While the new vehicles bring excitement to some, they also raise plenty of questions and concerns.

During a two-day session in Topeka that concluded on Wednesday, members of the Kansas Senate and House transportation committees met with car and industry experts to discuss information and issues with driverless cars.

State Rep. Adam Lusker (D-Frontenac) said driverless cars could bring about many changes to the state, including to some of our surroundings.

"There are things that we'll have to look into that we really didn't think about last year or 30 years ago," he explained. "The lanes could be narrower, parking lots will be more utilized and parking stalls will be smaller."

Aside from the physical revisions, Lusker said autonomous vehicles could also bring about change with state laws.

"Do you need a driver's license? What do you do in a DUI situation?," he explained. 

Experts believe fully autonomous vehicles will first spread on a commercial level, with trucks implementing the technology to make deliveries.

In the years ahead, Lusker said the state will need to address how driverless cars will impact the economy.

"If you take a truck driver out of the cab, what job do we create there? It's a job lost," the state representative explained. 

Concerns over cyber security threats and liability issues also continue to be brought up with fully autonomous cars.

Lusker said the impact to the insurance industry will be an important element to consider.

"If the car is driving itself, the manufacturer of that vehicle is going to be more liable than they've ever been in the past," he explained.

Despite the concerns, many experts and Lusker believe driverless cars will end up making roads around the country safer.

"They have sensors all over the vehicles that when they sense an obstacle they slow down or stop," he explained. "Ultimately, if our highways get safer because of autonomous cars that's an improvement."