When will cars that drive themselves be on the road in the Garden State?

No one knows for sure but it may happen soon and New Jersey officials are trying to make sure we’re prepared.

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State Sen. Tom Kean Jr., R-Union, who’s been leading the charge to make sure the state is ready to integrate self-driving cars and trucks onto the highways and streets, said the New Jersey Advanced Autonomous Vehicle Task Force has issued a new report with multiple recommendations on how we should proceed.

He said the report puts forth a series of guidelines for autonomous vehicles “to make sure they are safe on our roadways, to make sure we are partnering with other states and understanding what they are doing, making sure that we have safety as our primary concern.”

The Task Force focused on a number of issues, including developing a framework to regulate self-driving vehicles. The report notes that highly autonomous vehicles have the potential to provide safety, mobility, efficiency, convenience, economic and other benefits.

However, there are also potential negative impacts, including uncertainty regarding how highly autonomous vehicle deployment may impact land use, public transit services, and workforce levels and skills requirements.

Kean said the report recommends designating the state Motor Vehicle Commission as the lead agency to oversee the testing and deployment of self-driving cars, and it also calls for a two-step permitting process to allow companies to test and then deploy highly autonomous vehicles on public roadways, while requiring testers and operators to have proper insurance that meets standard statutory requirements for the class of vehicles being tested.

The report also calls for creating a working group jointly administered by the New Jersey Department of Transportation and the MVC that will address topics including policy and planning, infrastructure needs and security.

Kean first introduced legislation in 2013 that called for New Jersey to become a hub for the development, testing and implementation of cars that drive themselves.

He said the recommendations put forth by the Task Force have been delivered to the Legislature and the governor’s office, and steps will need to be taken to adopt them in the coming months and years. He would not speculate when fully self-driving cars will be available on our roadways.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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