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California’s Plan to Kill the Driverless Car

Instead of seeing driverless cars as a cheaper, safer, and more efficient mechanism to move people and goods, government bureaucrats are salivating at the possibility of inventing new and exciting ways to stifle innovation long before driverless cars even hit the market. As is so often the case, California leads the way.

What does California propose? First, prospective “drivers” will need a special state-issued certificate to operate a driverless car. To get it, they will need to complete a training regimen offered and paid for by the company that produced the car.

California has already mandated that all driverless cars have a driver, thereby missing the point of the new technology entirely. 

And these companies will not even be allowed to sell the product. Driverless cars will only be available for lease in the Golden State. Making matters worse, California has already mandated that all driverless cars have a driver, thereby missing the point of the new technology entirely. Companies producing driverless cars have had to retrofit their vehicles with pedals and steering wheels, neither of which was initially included, for obvious reasons. This situation is oddly reminiscent of early automobiles that came with fake horse heads hanging off their hoods.

As usual, reality has not made even the slightest dent in policy. Report after report, and much real-world experience, shows that driverless cars are much safer than human-driven cars. Former General Motors vice chairman Bob Lutz observes, “The autonomous car doesn’t drink, doesn’t do drugs, doesn’t text while driving, doesn’t get road rage.” They “don’t want to race other autonomous cars, and they don’t go to sleep.”

Lutz’s optimism has been reinforced by a recent report by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, which concludes, “By midcentury, the penetration of AVs [autonomous vehicles] … could ultimately cause vehicle crashes in the…

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