Kentucky governor vetoes bill to legalize self-driving vehicles

Warning that lawmakers moved too fast, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed a bill that would have allowed self-driving vehicles on the state's roadways.
Waymo self-driving car
A Waymo self-driving Jaguar taxi drives along Venice Beach on March 14, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Mario Tama / Getty Images)

Self-driving cars won’t be making their debut in Kentucky anytime soon, after a bill that aimed to establish a regulatory framework for operating fully autonomous vehicles on public highways within the state was vetoed by Gov. Andy Beshear on Friday.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 29 states have passed legislation related to autonomous vehicles since 2011. Nevada was the first state to authorize their operation, and Florida and California in 2016 became among the first states to legalize fully autonomous vehicles.

In his veto, Beshear, a Democrat, argued that the legislature passed the bill, House Bill 7, too quickly and that it would put autonomous vehicles on the road without human supervision.

“Opening Kentucky’s highways and roads to fully autonomous vehicles should occur only after careful study and consideration and an extensive testing period with a licensed human being behind the wheel, which is what other states have done before passing such laws,” Beshear wrote in his veto message on Friday.


The now-vetoed bill did include a mandatory trial period for semi-trucks and other vehicles that weigh more than 62,000 pounds.

In 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation published federal principles for the development and integration of automated vehicles that included prioritizing safety and security, promoting innovation and ensuring a consistent regulatory approach. 

Because the legislature passed House Bill 7 just before entering into veto break period, lawmakers still have time to override Gov. Beshear’s veto, which requires a majority vote from both chambers.

Sophia Fox-Sowell

Written by Sophia Fox-Sowell

Sophia Fox-Sowell reports on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and government regulation for StateScoop. She was previously a multimedia producer for CNET, where her coverage focused on private sector innovation in food production, climate change and space through podcasts and video content. She earned her bachelor’s in anthropology at Wagner College and master’s in media innovation from Northeastern University.

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