"One-Hand" Law Preventing Autonomous Cars in New York

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Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

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, Automotive Editor - June 2, 2016

Weird local and federal laws often hold up new technology in cars, like the NHTSA's quirky headlight and mirror laws holding up Audi's Matrix LEDs and LCD mirrors. In New York, autonomous cars have a battle of their own as a 35-year-old law is preventing automakers from testing them on city streets, according to AutoBlog.

The law in question isn't actually that strange—in fact, we're surprised New York is the only state to have it on the books. It requires drivers to keep at least one hand on the steering wheel at all times, and would still be a perfectly reasonable rule in a world without autonomous functionality. Audi was unpleasantly surprised by the law's existence when it showed up in state capital Albany with a self-driving car it couldn’t legally demonstrate.

Luckily, autonomous vehicles have one lawmaker on their side in New York Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Joseph Robach. He not only wants to change the law to match today's technology, but he also feels it needs to be changed as it could result in police officers ticketing drivers for using today’s assisted parking system and limited autonomous driving capacities, like Tesla's Autopilot.

To date, six states and D.C. have modified their outdated driving laws to accommodate self-driving cars, but New York's other lawmakers aren't quite convinced this technology is ready for the streets of the Empire State. These laws will get changed at some point, but exactly when remains up in the air.

For those interested in the closest thing we have to autonomous driving right now, there is the Tesla Model S. Shoppers looking to lease can snag a 2016 Model S 70 with optional Autopilot software from $866 for 36 months with $6,561 due at signing (10,000 mi/yr).

, Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Google+ | Website