SALT LAKE CITY — An advocate for the blind offered his unique perspective Friday as the topic of autonomous vehicles came up in a House committee meeting.
HB257, proposed by Rep. Robert Spendlove, R-Sandy, would create a task force for reviewing self-driving cars and setting safety standards for the varying degrees of autonomous vehicle function.
For Everette Bacon, the work of that task force could be a huge benefit, he said, if it's done correctly.
"It’s really critical that the task force include a person with a disability or at least have them be able to make comment," said Bacon, who is blind and advocates on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind.
The organization has been supportive of creating a vehicle strategy board and wants to make sure blind people and those with other disabilities are not excluded from using the driverless cars.
"The opportunity and the ability for blind and disabled people to have an open door in personal mobility is something that we’ve lacked for a long time," the Salt Lake City resident said.
Access to a vehicle that meets the needs of the blind and disabled, Bacon said, could greatly increase employment opportunities and overall independence.
Spendlove said the intention of the legislation is to prepare laws that reflect changes in technology, particularly as they relate to auto insurance.
The overall transition to autonomous vehicles could take 30 to 40 years, he said. In the meantime, insurance companies need to prepare for situations where some people are in autonomous vehicles and others are not.
HB257 received unanimous support from the House Transportation Committee and now moves to the full House for further discussion.