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N.Y. Bar Association to Study Legal Impact of Driverless Cars

June 3, 2019, 10:37 PM

The New York State Bar Association launched a task force June 3 to explore legal issues surrounding driverless vehicles.

The 17-member panel, consisting of judges and attorneys specializing in everything from insurance law to artificial intelligence, will host hearings and seek comment from industry experts.

It’ll explore the potential impact autonomous vehicles would have on licensing, industry and insurance law. The panel plans to present its findings to the association’s leadership in April 2020.

The task force recommendations could be used to help propose state policy and laws, shaping the conversation as lawmakers across the state and nation look to regulate the deployment of self-driving cars, association President Henry M. Greenberg said.

The association has more than 70,000 members and is the largest voluntary state bar association in the country.

Greenberg said he’s not aware of any other state doing a comprehensive legal review of the effects of autonomous vehicles.

New York State in 2017 passed a law allowing for autonomous vehicle testing. The pilot program lets companies test and demo the vehicles on public roads, provided they are escorted by police, have a licensed driver behind the wheel, and the company has a $5 million insurance policy.

Though there still is a way to go before the vehicles are widely used, it is “coming at us fast and furious,” Greenberg said.

“Inevitably, all of these kinds of social and economic issues are going to result in laws, statutes and regulations being adopted,” he said.

Members of the panel include Hon. Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, of counsel, Greenberg Traurig; Hon. Betty Weinberg Ellerin, senior counsel, Alston & Bird; Ron Hedges, senior counsel, Dentons; Mauricio F. Paez, partner, Jones Day; and Alexander H. Southwell, partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Taa R. Grays, vice president and associate general counsel at MetLife, and Andrew Vu, vice president and general counsel at Mercedes Benz are also on the committee.

To contact the reporter on this story: Keshia Clukey in Albany, N.Y. at kclukey@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com