Return to News Jan 22, 2024

AV Legislation Will Boost Kentucky’s Leadership as Transportation and Supply Chain Hub

The Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association (AVIA) encourages Kentucky lawmakers to pass HB 7, a bill establishing a regulatory framework for autonomous vehicles (AVs) to be safely tested and deployed in the state.

“HB 7 paves the way for safer roads, a stronger economy, and more accessibility for everyone in Kentucky,” said Jeff Farrah, chief executive officer for AVIA. “The Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association thanks Rep. Josh Bray for his forward-thinking leadership on the technology’s tremendous benefits for Kentucky, and we encourage commonwealth lawmakers to pass this legislation.” 

AV technology is equipped with next-generation advancements, such as radar, lidar, cameras, and 360-degree vision. Programmed to be model drivers, AVs are purpose-built to remove human driving errors like speeding, distractions, fatigue, and impairment from drugs and alcohol from the roads. Last year 800 lives were lost on Kentucky’s roads due to motor vehicle crashes.

HB 7 allows AVs to safely test and operate in the commonwealth. The legislation prioritizes safety above all, requiring the technology to achieve fallback maneuvers and be in compliance with all state and city traffic laws. Twenty-three states have already passed legislation to create AV safety regulations, including several neighboring states to Kentucky.

AVs are the natural next step for Kentucky’s infrastructure, supporting the Bluegrass State’s leadership in transportation, logistics and manufacturing industries. Autonomous trucks will thrive together with truck drivers, augmenting the workforce and boosting Kentucky’s manufacturers, farmers, and small businesses facing supply chain challenges. 

Federal government data indicates U.S. freight volume will increase by 50% by 2050 according to U.S. government statistics. At the same time, the current shortage of nearly 80,000 drivers is set to double by 2031. Kentucky’s economy and jobs will reap the benefits from the autonomous trucks’ faster delivery speeds, access to new markets, and improved fuel savings. AV companies are already creating new jobs, employing truck drivers to support testing and development as well as terminal operators, fleet and vehicle technicians, remote assistance specialists, dispatchers, mapping experts, and engineers. The U.S. Department of Transportation found that AV trucks will spur $111 billion in investment spending, create up to 35,000 jobs each year, and raise earnings for all workers through enhanced productivity. Given Kentucky’s prime geographic location within one day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population, the commonwealth is uniquely situated to benefit from this new innovation.

AVs also create new accessibility options for people with disabilities, senior citizens, and Kentucky residents living in food and transportation deserts. With access to AVs, seniors, persons with disabilities and nondrivers can attain increased access to education, work opportunities and more.