With the advent of automated vehicle technologies, we are entering a period of transition and uncertainty that involves harmonizing the laws that we have on the books with new issues raised by the technology. Automobiles are already being produced and sold with automated features that provide assistance to drivers
such as lane departure warning systems that alert drivers who are drifting outside their lane, and adaptive cruise control that maintains a vehicle’s speed and the following distance between a vehicle and the car ahead of it. What is new are vehicles equipped with enough automation to function without a driver present in the car at all. Until the 85thTexas Legislature (2017), Texas law did not recognize automated vehicles (AVs), either for testing or for operation on Texas roads. However, during that session, Texas passed a law that began to address potential legal issues. The bill passed as Senate Bill 2205, and it added Subchapter J to Section 545 of the Transportation Code (hereinafter “SB 2205”). Although this law addresses a number of issues that can help to create a legal foundation for the operation of automated vehicles in Texas, several other legal ambiguities remain. This brief identifies and discusses a number of those issues as they apply to automated vehicles.