COLUMBUS (WCMH) — After seeing the City of Pittsburgh open their streets to Uber, allowing them to test autonomous vehicles, Ohio Governor John Kasich says he grew frustrated with his state’s lack of progress in this area.
“I wanted to become the wild, wild west,” said Kasich.
Often the wild west is associated with being a frontier ripe for exploration and discovery, where one could go to change their life, find their fortune and become something greater than they were.
It was also a lawless land where, in some parts, the rule of law was overlooked if it existed at all.
Governor Kasich is surely attempting to harness the good parts of the wild west and taking steps to prevent the bad with an executive order he signed Wednesday morning.
With the stroke of his pen, every public road in Ohio is now available for testing of autonomous vehicles.
“This order authorizes autonomous vehicle testing on any public road in the state of Ohio and spells out what the state will require to ensure that the testing is done safely,” said Jim Barna with the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Companies that want to test on Ohio roadways will have to register with the state.
“They will need to guarantee their vehicle can comply with all of our traffic laws and provide a safety assurance report to DriveOhio,” said Barna.
Over the past seven years, there have been fewer deaths from automobile accidents than ever before in Ohio. Still, on average three people a day die on Ohio roadways.
Kasich believes getting to automated vehicles faster will reduce that death rate, and he understands there may be apprehension.
“Some people are going to be nervous about it. I mean would you want to put your kids in the car; would you want to put your spouse in the car?” questioned Kasich. “Well, you have to test this stuff and I think we have enough guardrails around this.”
Just before signing his executive order he sent a loud and clear message to the industry.
“We’re ready to roll. No, you’re ready to roll in our state,” said Kasich.
On hand at the executive order signing event to hear him directly were representatives of Honda.