New Florida bill allows self-driving vehicles to operate without humans

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — Self-driving vehicles will be able to operate in Florida without a human on board under a bill signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

"Signing this legislation paves the way for Florida to continue as a national leader in transportation innovation and technological advancement," DeSantis said.

DeSantis signed the measure Thursday at the SunTrax facility in Polk County, which is a test track for autonomous vehicles. DeSantis said he wants companies testing the vehicles to move to Florida.

"SunTrax will be the only high-speed autonomous vehicle testing facility in the southeastern United States," a news release said.


The new law takes effect July 1. It will allow self-driving cars without humans on all roads as long as the vehicles meet new insurance and safety requirements. It will exempt operators inside self-driving cars from laws that ban texting while driving and other potentially distracting activities.

"This bill on self-driving cars will usher in a new era of smart cities that will not only expand our economy but increase road safety and decrease traffic congestion,” state Rep. Jason Fischer said.

Current law allows self-driving vehicles if a person is in the car.

As of March, 29 states had passed laws that range from permitting testing of such vehicles to allowing them without humans.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.