AUSTIN (KXAN) — Last week, KXAN reported on two autonomous vehicles blocking lanes of traffic Friday evening. General Motors’ Cruise has been testing its driverless vehicles in the state capital since late 2022 — but despite operating in Austin, it’s not under the city’s purview to regulate these vehicles.

Back in 2017, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 2205, which amended the state’s Transportation Code to include new policies related to autonomous vehicle, or AV, technology. Under that piece of legislation:

  • Owners of AVs are required to adhere to state registration and title laws, as well as traffic and motor vehicle laws
  • AVs must be equipped with a data-recording system, meet federal safety standards and have insurance
  • In the event of a crash involving an AV, the vehicle should immediately stop and notify the proper authorities of the incident

“State law pre-empts local authority of self-driving vehicles,” an Austin Transportation and Public Works Department spokesperson told KXAN. “SB 2205 made rules uniform for AVs across the state, putting regulation and oversight in the hands of the state government rather than local municipalities.”

In 2021, House Bill 3026 passed the legislature and became law, specifically related to the operation and regulation of AVs.

While the City of Austin does work with autonomous vehicle companies operating in the city, a city spokesperson said their partnership primarily centers around sharing knowledge of the local transportation network.