DMV: Driverless Cars Must Have Licensed Drivers

California Connection
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SACRAMENTO --

Jessie Lorenz has a running bet in her family.

"Who's going to drive first, me or my kid?" she laughs.

Thursday, she was at a DMV hearing making a case for why she should be allowed to do exactly that.

"Please don't leave my family out in the waiting room," she pleaded with DMV attorneys.

Lorenz was there among billion-dollar business representatives and powerful trade groups, asking California's DMV to drop rules that require a licensed driver be aboard every driverless car.

A representative from one of California's most recognizable brands, Google, put it a different way when he said the cars they're focused on developing won't have a place for a driver.

"On the basis of the DMV's proposed regulation we are discussing here today, it will not be available in California," said Chris Urmson of Google.

But the DMV isn't ready yet to trust these devices entirely to their own devices, and they left the impression Thursday that those rules would stay put.

"And the purpose for that is simply safety. We want to make sure -- this is such new technology -- if something were to disengage, if something were to go wrong, there's a real-life human being in the car that can take over," said Jaime Garza, a spokesman for the DMV.

The DMV is also suggesting these cars only be available for lease at first. That way, Garza explains, if there's some change to the regulations, or some revelation about safety, a private owner won't be stuck with an expensive car they can't use.

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