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Lawmaker Reconsiders Autonomous Delivery Vehicle Restrictions

The automated Uber fatality has cast doubts on a bill at the capitol.

House Majority Whip Kelly Townsend admitted her bill, that allows autonomous delivery vehicles to park on sidewalks, may need revisiting to restore restrictions stripped in earlier committee discussions.

In her original draft, for example, the bill limited delivery vehicles to 100 lbs total weight, but that was pulled after businesses suggested it could prevent competition from emerging companies.

"I just need the bill to allow these things to be on the sidewalk," Townsend told Capitol Media Services just days after a woman was struck and killed by an autonomous Uber vehicle.

Arizona law currently does not allow motorized vehicles on sidewalks, but Townsend proposed it should after returning from Washington, D.C. where autonomous delivery vehicles are already being used.

And, although Sunday's accident involved a pedestrian who was struck while crossing outside of a designated cross walk, Townsend said she is not in a hurry to be attached to a fatality or injury caused by an autonomous vehicle.

"Now that this has happened," she said, "it has given me pause."

As the author of HB2422 she may insist that the weight limit be put back into the bill.

But the version awaiting a Senate roll-call vote also removes some other provisions that were in the original bill, including a requirement that the devices have brakes. And it deletes a provision that would preclude the robots from transporting hazardous materials. Also gone is the requirement for $100,000 worth of liability insurance.

Townsend said that, given all the questions, it might be appropriate to put a "sunset'' provision into her legislation, having it self-destruct at some future date unless specifically renewed by lawmakers.

That would require the Legislature to review how the testing has gone and determine whether changes are needed in the law — or even whether Arizona wants to continue to allow the devices on the sidewalks.

Holliday Moore is a native Arizonan and veteran journalist who joined KJZZ’s news team in January 2017.Moore graduated from Arizona State University after double majoring in mass communications and marketing/management. She spent her first two decades reporting for television news, beginning in small markets and working up to congressional correspondent in Washington, D.C., for a political news service.Family commitments in Arizona brought her back to the Southwest, where she covered legislative and court beats for Albuquerque’s KRQE-TV and the infamous Four Corner Manhunt as KREZ-TV’s managing editor.Back home in Phoenix, she developed ABC15’s “Democracy Project,” now instituted at all Scripps’ news stations nationwide. Her work garnered “Best Practices” recognition by the Poynter Institute and the prestigious Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism.Her television reports, from sports to cultural issues, earned her multiple Emmy and Associated Press nominations, including a Rocky Mountain Emmy for her Hopi Partition Land Act coverage.As she started a family, Moore started her own media production agency, producing magazine-style travel stories for the Emmy-winning Arizona Highways Television show while working part time for a Valley radio station. She is convinced radio is where visual, sound, and print are merging through deeper storytelling. In her relatively short time with radio network affiliates, she has won four Edward R. Murrow Awards and multiple nominations from other professional news societies.Moore now teaches advanced broadcast writing to the next generation of reporters at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where a high percentage have gone on to receive national awards for their work in her class. She enjoys being back home near childhood friends and sharing the beautiful Arizona desert with her husband and young son.