Legislature: Bill Allowing Testing Of Autonomous Vehicles In NM Passes House


House Bill 270, a bipartisan bill authorizing the testing of self-driving vehicles in New Mexico, passed the House of Representatives today. 

In order to test autonomous cars on New Mexico roads, HB 270 requires users to notify the New Mexico Department of Transportation of their intent to drive. In turn, NMDOT will develop its own rules and regulations for autonomous vehicles so those used in the state meet federal standards and operate in compliance with applicable traffic laws. It also allows for “platooning,” or flocking together of autonomous vehicles, intended to increase road capacity. 

The legislation holds sponsorship from  Harry Garcia (D-Grants), Rep. Patty Lundstrom (D-Gallup), Rep. Dayan Hochman-Vigil (D-Albuquerque), Rep. Joy Garratt (D-Albuquerque), Rep. Randal Crowder (R-Cloves), and Rep. Randall Pettigrew (R-Lovington). 

“Right now, New Mexico has a unique opportunity to be a national leader in this emerging and fascinating industry,” said Rep. Garcia. “By allowing testing to take place in New Mexico, we’re encouraging the companies developing these technologies to increase their presence here, fostering a potentially strong economic driver for our state.” 

“Autonomous vehicles are already operating in our state under specific contracts, but House Bill 270 will bring needed regulation to the industry,” said Rep. Lundstrom. “This smart legislation provides an exciting new economic opportunity for the state, and sets up in statute the authority to regulate and give guidance to this emerging industry as it develops and grows.” 

“Huge companies, from Amazon to Tesla to General Motors, are investing in research surrounding driverless cars, and New Mexico cannot afford to be behind the eight ball in this innovative new industry,” said Rep. Hochman-Vigil. “Self-driving cars undoubtedly have a strong future in our country, and this bill lays the groundwork to ensure New Mexico can be a part of the exciting road ahead.” 

“For the future of our state and our workers, New Mexico must diversify its economy, and HB 270 is a great first step toward carving out our piece of the promising new autonomous vehicle industry,” said Rep. Garratt. “I am proud to be a sponsor of this measure to put New Mexico on the cutting edge, and am proud to see it advance to the Senate.” 

“It’s highly likely that autonomous vehicles will become common for commercial use, and perhaps personal use, in the coming decades. It’s important that New Mexico starts early and on a small scale, to facilitate their introduction,” said Rep. Crowder. “With this bill, we can begin the process of studying how best New Mexicans take advantage of this autonomous future.”

HB 270 passed the House with a 60-4 vote and will now head to the Senate. 

Members of the public can track legislation on the New Mexico Legislature website, access committee meetings and House floor sessions via the Webcasts tab, or participate by Zoom to provide public comment on committee hearings. During the 2021 Legislative Session, the House of Representatives is focused on passing critical legislation while protecting the health and safety of the public, the staff, and the legislators.