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Cars that drive themselves already roaming California highways

Many car accidents in California are caused by something preventable: human error. Whether it's a distracted driver talking on a cell phone, a drowsy driver crossing the center line or an inexperienced driver who makes a bad decision, scores of accidents every year are brought about by drivers being human. Some studies have shown human error is to blame in more than 90 percent of all car crashes.

But what if a car wasn't driven by a human? While a few years ago a car that drives itself -- known as an autonomous vehicle -- seemed like the stuff of science fiction. But autonomous vehicles are already on the road, particularly in California. Google, the leader in so many technical applications, has already logged more than 200,000 miles on California roads with its self-driving Toyotas.

With a new technology, of course, comes new legislation. A member of the California State Senate is introducing a bill that would allow the California State Patrol to adopt safety standards and regulations for autonomous vehicles. As it is, self-driving cars are not against the law, but they are hardly mentioned in the law at all. The hope is that the more vehicles there are on the road that require no human control, the more safe the roads will be.

While many cars already have autonomous components, such as the ability to parallel park or technology to stay within a lane, the proposed legislation only would apply to cars that are fully drivable without "active control and continuous monitoring" of a human driver.

Source: Wired, "California Lawmaker Wants Rules for Robo-Cars," Chuck Squatriglia, Feb. 29, 2012

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