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A Nebraska lawmaker's effort to prepare the state for the arrival of driverless cars met resistance Tuesday from industry representatives, who said it's too soon to act.

National experts on traffic safety, liability and autonomous vehicle technology are still crafting a regulatory framework for all states. Most agree widespread deployment of self-driving cars is years away, if not decades.

"There's a lot of stuff that's still in flux," said John Lindsay, a lobbyist representing 12 of the nation's largest car manufacturers. 

The Alliance of Auto Manufacturers was among half a dozen groups that offered neutral but skeptical input on a measure sponsored by Sen. Tyson Larson of O'Neill. The bill (LB627) was the subject of a public hearing Tuesday before the Legislature's Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.

No one other than Larson spoke in support of the bill. The ride-hailing service Uber, which is testing its own self-driving fleets in Pittsburgh and Tempe, Arizona, opposed the measure.

"States are trying to think ahead," said Carla Jacobs, a lobbyist for Uber. "I don't know if anyone can see the future of this technology enough to put in place a bill that will absolutely work for the future."

Julie Maaske, deputy director of the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles, said, while autonomous vehicles are an "important and relevant topic," the state should avoid becoming an "island" by establishing laws that don't mesh with those from other states or the federal government. 

Eleven states have passed laws related to driverless cars.

Larson's is the first such measure introduced in Nebraska. He said the language is modeled after a Florida law passed last year.

Self-driving cars are "no longer just an engineer's vision of the future," Larson said. 

He acknowledged the technology is still changing but called the bill a starting point that would get something on the state's law books in case the federal government doesn't act.

"We understand that Washington has enough on their plate."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7234 or

On Twitter @zachami.


Assistant city editor

Zach Pluhacek is an assistant city editor.

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