Committee holds hearing on driverless vehicle tests in Nebraska - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

Committee holds hearing on driverless vehicle tests in Nebraska

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On Tuesday, senators heard testimony on two bills on driverless vehicle testing in Nebraska.

The first bill, from Sen. Anna Wishart of Lincoln, would allow testing within cities.

She said the technology can positively impact mobility, agriculture, economic development and safety.

"Autonomous vehicle technology shows great potential in preventing injuries, saving lives and reducing the cost of traffic crashes," Wishart said.  "An estimated 94 percent of traffic accidents are caused by human error."

The bill would enable Lincoln to launch a driverless shuttle service that would carry passengers between downtown Lincoln, the Haymarket and UNL campus.

Department of Motor Vehicles Director Rhonda Lahm testified against the bill, saying testing shouldn't be limited to just cities like Lincoln, but should be statewide.

"We just want to ensure that we don't do something in Nebraska that makes Nebraska an island...similar to what's happening in other states," Lahm said.  "And that it's comprehensive and applies statewide.  Not just in the primary cities."

The other bill, sponsored by Sen. Tyson Larson of O'Neill, would authorize testing driverless vehicles on state highways.

"I believe this is the safest and most responsible way to respond to and proceed with this issue," Larson said.

Speaking on behalf of the Nebraska teamsters, Keith Gamerl said he sees the technology slowly putting commercial drivers out of work.

"We need those people, we need those jobs to pay those bills," Gamerl said.  "We don't need a truck driving down the road by itself, just so a company can probably make a little bit more money."

The proposals have to make it out of committee before they can be debated on the floor.

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