Los Angeles City Council Considers Autonomous Car Rules – NBC Los Angeles

The Los Angeles City Council is considering introducing autonomous vehicle regulations amid ongoing public safety concerns.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the council was expected to consider safety recommendations and support for three state bills aimed at giving municipalities more power to regulate autonomous vehicles and access test data.

The recommendations were made after the City Council adopted a motion introduced by council members Traci Park and Bob Blumenfield in November 2023 calling for more legislation that would better empower Los Angeles elected officials to regulate AVs.

Self-driving passenger transportation service Waymo already offers service in San Francisco and Phoenix, and has since expanded to Austin and Los Angeles. As of October 2023, the company has been testing some autonomous vehicles in Los Angeles.

In March 2024, the California Public Utilities Commission authorized Waymo to expand its operations in the Los Angeles area. Shortly thereafter, the company launched service in a 63-square-mile area from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles.

Waymo, which has been mapping various Los Angeles neighborhoods such as Koreatown and Westwood for years, says it has provided more than 15,000 rides since then.

Concerns about AVs include their potential to block roads, malfunction and increase traffic congestion. The Los Angeles Times reported that a Waymo vehicle hit a closing gate at USC, causing minor scratches.

Waymo hasn’t been involved in any serious accidents, but Cruise – another AV company owned by General Motors – sparked outrage last year when an AV dragged a pedestrian who was hit by another car 20 feet after failing to make it detect. Cruise was also charged in connection with a close call involving children on the sidewalk.

Waymo reports that compared to human-driven vehicles, the number of accidents resulting in injuries was reduced by 85% and 57% less than the number of accidents reported by police.

California has become one of the largest testing grounds for autonomous vehicle companies like Waymo. John Cádiz Klemack reports on “Today in Los Angeles” on Tuesday, June 11, 2024.

California already has some AV laws in place. For example, SB 1298 – signed into law by then-Governor Jerry Brown in 2012 – gives the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) the authority to regulate the testing and deployment of AVs.

Additionally, in 2018, the California Public Utilities Commission launched two AV pilot programs that allow AV operation provided DMV permits are obtained and vehicles comply with DMV regulations.