Friday news dumps are a long and proud tradition, and one in which the California Department of Motor Vehicles took part today by releasing its long-awaited “Proposed Driverless Testing and Deployment Regulations.” The filing, made with the California Office of Administrative Law, signals the first official action taken by the department to codify regulations that are now two years behind their legislatively mandated schedule.

Comments on the proposed regulations are due April 24, with a public hearing scheduled for April 25 in Sacramento.

Disappointingly, the proposed rules would still require automakers—as part of their application to operate in California—to file a “safety assessment letter” with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration before their vehicles could be deployed on California roads.

This shows there’s still confusion about the nature of the Federal Automated Vehicle Policy (FAVP), which was crafted as a voluntary guidance document. Requiring states to certify their compliance with the FAVP’s 15-point safety checklist is something that was never contemplated during the policy’s creation. Neither state nor federal law should force automakers to comply with standards that haven’t gone through notice-and-comment rulemaking.

While California remains confused on the matter, the FAVP’s voluntary nature  should be underscored by NHTSA and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao so that other states do not make similar mistakes.

Some other notable aspects of the proposed regulations include:

Analysis of these, and all of the other provisions, will appear on R Street in the days to come.

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