Ohio lawmakers eager to learn about self-driving cars, maintaining transportation innovation heritage

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The prospect of jumping into your car in the morning or at the end of a long day, and having it drive you home on its own are still just a thing of fantasy here in Ohio.

But that fantasy is getting closer to becoming reality as automakers continue to make advancements and improvements on self-driving vehicles.

That is one of the primary driving forces behind State House of Representatives member Doug Green and the rest of the House Transportation and Public Safety Committee’s decision to hold informational hearings on automated vehicles over the next 8 months.

Green, the Republican chairman of the committee, has been at the statehouse for the past three general assemblies. He says, this will be the first time the committee has sat down to really study the issue, and doing so is vital to Ohio’s growth.

For as long as anyone can remember Ohio has been a birthplace of innovation, especially in transportation. Being able to maintain that description in the 21st century is important to Green.

“We don’t want to be a hindrance to the development of the technology; we want to be an environment that encourages,” said Green. “However, we do have a responsibility to our citizens to make sure they are protected in the meantime.”

With level 3 and 4 automated vehicles nearly completed if not ready, Green wants to be up to speed on what he says is inevitability.

“I believe we are looking at the next space race,” said Green. “[The hearings] will give us detailed information to be able to identify those legislative needs.”

Green says, we as a people are slowly becoming accustomed to more and more automation within our vehicles. Options like parallel parking assistance and automatic braking are the newest, most overt examples, but you don’t have to look to far to see a long standing favorite of many road warriors taking a long trip; the cruise control.

With human interaction still necessary on some level for all commercial vehicles available for purchase, the prospect of being able to focus on something other than the road is still stuck in neutral; but the dream of self-driving cars hitting the road endures with a stern caveat.

“That will never happen until we in the legislature say so,” said Green.

The House Transportation committee will hold its first hearing next week.

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