Massachusetts lawmakers are proposing a tax on self-driving
vehicles they say could prevent the rise of “zombie cars.”
Introduced in late January, the twin bills would tax self-driving
cars per mile and allow large municipalities to ban them
altogether, the Northeast-focused news website Metro reported. The bill set is being
sponsored by state Sens. Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Jason Lewis,
The proposal is meant to curtail the rise of “zombie cars,” or
driverless vehicles that drive in circles waiting for a customer
instead of parking, Lewis told The Boston Globe. The bill set asks for a
per-mile fee of at least $0.025.
“We could have situations where people with autonomous vehicles
go somewhere and because there is either very little parking or
because they don’t want to pay for parking, they could just have
their cars just driving around and clogging up the roads,” Lewis
recently told Metro, which covers Boston, New York, and
The bill also requires self-driving cars to be marked as
autonomous vehicles, be zero-emission vehicles if they weigh less
than 8,500 pounds, store data required by the Massachusetts
Registry of Motor Vehicles, and have a panic button.
Massachusetts state law does not address the testing of
self-driving cars. The state is allowing NuTonomy, a
Cambridge-based startup, to test its self-driving cars.
The Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, which includes
companies like Ford and Google, has called for the federal government to release regulations
dictating the use of self-driving vehicles to avoid a
state-by-state approach in which policies could vary greatly.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released
guidelines for self-driving vehicles in
September that called for states to develop uniform policies for
self-driving cars, but the guidelines don’t set any kind of legal
framework. Michigan was the first state to establish
regulations for the testing, use, and eventual sale of
self-driving cars in December.