Bill Allows for Testing of High-Tech Vehicles on Utah’s Roads

Imagine two semi trucks traveling together on Utah's freeway, one in front of the other, just 30 feet between the two. The two vehicles, moving in sync, accelerating and decelerating as one, connected by wireless signal.

As cars become more technologically advanced, this is a distinct possibility. But, it’s not legal right now in the Beehive state.

HB 373, sponsored by Rep. John Knotwell, R-Herriman, aims to rectify that situation by establishing areas of Utah's highways where testing of these connected vehicles can take place.

"These two trucks, each with their own driver, would be able to draft off each other to improve fuel efficiency," says Knotwell. "Right now, that's illegal under our 'two second follow' rule."

Wayne Leonard of UDOT says this is the next evolution in vehicle technology.

"These testing areas would be in approved areas only when close following is acceptable. The drivers would still be in control," he stresses. "This is meant to be an active system so the trucks can control their speed together."

Knotwell also notes Utah’s fiber optic infrastructure is robust enough that it makes the state an ideal site for testing vehicle testing technology.

The bill does not allow for testing of Google's autonomous car project.

The test areas will be limited to rural highways only, most likely in Utah’s West Desert.