We’re Glad the DMV Is Making Us Wait

One of the biggest complaints people have about the Department of Motor Vehicles is how long you have to wait to get anything done. We’ve been waiting eight months on this DMV issue, but we are glad that’s the case this time.

SB 1298 signed into law in 2012 requires the California DMV to enact regulations governing the use of self-driving cars.  Rules covering the testing of robot cars, which importantly require that a human driver be able to take control when necessary, are in place and cover the nine companies currently using our streets as their corporate laboratories.

But the Legislature also said that the DMV was to have regulations covering the general public’s use of  robot cars in place by Jan. 1, 2015.  DMV has blown that deadline by eight months, but that’s a good thing.  

As we pointed out in a letter to the DMV in June 2014: ““We urge the DMV to follow a sensible and deliberate approach that would require adequate testing and time to analyze the test results.”

One of the things the testing regulations require is that the companies testing robot cars file reports explaining when and why a test driver had to take over operation of a robot car.  The first such reports covering the period from last Sept. 16 through Nov. 30, 2015 are due on Jan. 1, 2016.

Analyzing those reports — and other information such as data and videos from test robot car crashes — is really essential to writing any meaningful regulations covering public use of the vehicles.

We hope the DMV agrees.  There is no reason to put the robot car rules in the fast lane.  The important thing is safety and it’s well worth waiting to get the robot car rules right.

Capitol Watchdog is owned and operated by nonprofit Consumer Watchdog. For more information about Consumer Watchdog visit http://www.consumerwatchdog.org