AUBURNDALE, Fla. (FOX 13) - Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law Thursday one of the country's most progressive autonomous vehicle bills, paving the way for self-driving vehicles - without a human inside - to operate on Florida roads.
Until now, state law has required a person to be inside an autonomous vehicle, acting as a backup in the case of a malfunction. That will change on July 1.
"This bill really affirms Florida's commitment to advancing a growing new era in transportation innovation," DeSantis said. "I think that this helps chart a course to a bolder brighter and smarter future in transportation and embraces the innovation revolution that will bring high-paying jobs to the state while making our roads safer."
The legislation is aimed at opening up Florida to more testing and use of driverless cars. The state is already home to testing sites like SunTrax in Auburndale, which is where the bill-signing took place.
DeSantis explained why he believes driverless cars will make roads safer.
"The fact of the matter is people are distracted when they drive. So if we get this and it's right, I think you're going to have safer roadways, make better use of our existing roads which will alleviate traffic," the governor said.
A lot of drivers love the idea while others wonder whether the governor should tap the brakes on this plan.
"Technology is fantastic today but still, there are certain things that just scare me to death and now driverless cars out here? We have enough wrecks from people behind the wheel," said Paul Bryant as he waited in the Tampa International Airport cell phone lot.
The new law says people inside autonomous vehicles will also be exempt from laws banning distracted driving activities, such as texting.