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Will CO Driverless Vehicle Bill Become Law?

It seems Colorado is at the forefront of a lot of trends these days. First state to legalize marijuana. First state to conduct a test for a self-driving truck moving along Interstate 25 full of Budweiser beer. Now, it appears Colorado is gearing up to become the first state to pass legislation regulating self-driving vehicles.

Senate Bill 213 would acknowledge the existence of self-driving vehicles on Colorado’s roadways, and requires those vehicles conform to every state and federal traffic law. The bill is being sponsored by Republican state Sen. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs and Democratic Sen. Dominick Moreno of Commerce City. Both chambers, the House and Senate voted to approve the final version of the bill and sent it on to Gov. John Hickenlooper for his signature.

Reasons for and Against the Proposed Self-Driving Legislation

Will CO Driverless Vehicle Bill Become Law? | Denver Truck Accident Attorney

Will CO Driverless Vehicle Bill Become Law? | Denver Truck Accident Attorney

The following information was gathered from local news reports as well as Bill 231:1

  • 90 percent of the 605 fatalities on Colorado roads in 2016 were caused by human operator error.
  • Legislators argued the bill shows an effort to work with and allow self-driving vehicles in the future, and that they would be safer for state highways.
  • Self-driving vehicles can’t drive impaired – drunk or drugged.
  • Self-driving vehicles can’t drive distracted, because they are programmed.
  • One downside to self-driving vehicles is that it will takesd jobs away from truck drivers and taxi cab drivers, eventually. This will have an economic impact on individuals and families.
  • Some legislators even suggested that programs should be erected to help re-train and re-employ those who lose jobs due to self-driving vehicles.
  • In Colorado, there are between 80,000 to 90,000 workers in the transportation industry. Nearly, have of those workers belong to unions.

Who Pays Damages if a Self-Driving Car Crashes?

When a driver crashes with a self-driving vehicle, and the self-driving vehicle caused the crash, who is held liable? The following list will try and go over the current scenarios used to assign blame or liability:2

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Society of Automotive Engineers have determined six levels of vehicle automation. Full human control is considered a zero, while a fully autonomous vehicle would be a five.
  • Since most of today’s self-autonomous vehicles (SAVs) only have partial automation, they are at a level two most likely. With automation at a level three or less, the driver would be held liable in most crashes, because they are responsible for a bulk of the vehicle’s operation.
  • In the future, as SAVs become more autonomous, more parties will become liable. For instance, car manufacturers that design SAV software will incur more and more liability.
  • If cars have dual modes, involving both manual and autonomous modes, law enforcement will have to make determinations based on their investigations.
  • Some level of liability will also be decided by case law, say DOT officials.

SB 213 was sent to the governor’s desk on April 24th. The governor has 10 days to sign or veto the bill. As of press time, the governor had not signed the bill.

Contact a Denver Truck Accident Attorney at Warshauer McLaughlin Law Group

When you or a family member are injured in a collision, whether it’s with a self-driving vehicle or driver controlled, and the other party was at-fault, it’s time to get a hard-working legal team that can help you get the justice you deserve as well as compensation for your damages? That’s why you can count on our tenacious and trustworthy Denver Truck Accident Attorney at the Warshauer McLaughlin Law Group. Our Denver truck accident attorney is very thorough and will go through and re-investigate the crash, the police report, and build a tight case for your best chances at get the most for your cause.

Call today to schedule a free, initial consultation to learn how we can best serve you and get the ball rolling. We can be reached at (720) 420-9800 or email us using the contact form on this page. We have offices in Denver, but we can also meet where ever it is most convenient for you.


1“Colorado Legislature Sends Bill Regulating Driverless Vehicles to Hickenlooper” published in Denver Business Journal, April 2017.

2“Who is Liable if a Self-Driving Car Crashes? Tesla Mishap Raises Issues” published in USA Today, April, 2017.

All consultations are free. Contacting our firm to discuss your potential case does not result in any expense to you.

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