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Arizona DPS working to develop new policies for driverless vehicles

In this photo taken Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016, an Uber driverless car heads out for a test drive in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

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PHOENIX — The number of driverless vehicles on Arizona roadways are growing, but some unanswered questions still remain.

For example, who gets ticketed for moving violations? That is what the head of the Department of Public Safety is trying to work out.

Col. Frank Milstead has been working with companies like Waymo and the governor’s office to get new policies in place for driverless vehicles.

“New laws come into effect; new things happen; we rewrite policy,” he said. “In the opinion of myself and, really, the governor’s office, let’s provide statewide training to adapt to this new technology instead of trying to make technology adapt to (law enforcement).”

Driverless cars, Milstead said, are a good idea – especially for reducing DUI’s and accidents due to human error. However, there are still some questions that need to be worked out, such as passenger emergencies.

“You can hit an emergency button to stop the car, for law enforcement,” he said. “(Or) if there’s a domestic-violence (situation) or someone that’s sick. So, how does the car contact 9-1-1?”

Milstead said once the new state policies are in place, East Valley law enforcement will likely receive training on them first. That’s because, he said, most of the Valley’s driverless vehicles are there.

It’s not clear when the state’s policies would be updated.

In August 2015, Gov. Doug Ducey signed an executive order allowing testing of driverless vehicles on public roads. The order says as long as the vehicle has liability insurance – and the person responsible for it has a drivers license – it’s okay.

Companies like Uber, Lyft and Waymo (formerly Google’s self-driving car project) are testing their versions of driverless vehicles in Arizona.

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