Self-driving cars may be hitting the roads in Illinois if legislation passes

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Drivers in Illinois may soon be sharing the roads with self-driving cars.

The Illinois House Transportation committee has approved a bill that would allow driver-less vehicles in the state.

The committee is still working on some of the language in the bill but it's hoping to present it to the full house for a vote in April.

Allowing self-driving cars on Illinois roads is not something everyone in the state is on board with.

When it's raining, Judy Kaenel is out on her motorcycle. She's worried that if self-driving cars join her out on the road, it could end in tragedy.

"That’s the biggest fear I have, is somebody killing me on the roadway because they weren’t paying attention, they were letting their car pay attention,” said Kaenel.

Kaenel is the president of the Dukane Abate chapter, a motorcycle education group. It's pushing back against the house's proposed legislation. Kaenel says more testing needs to be done to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable people on the road.

"Vulnerable road users can be motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians walking along also horseback riders even," said Kaenel.

One of the sponsors of the legislation, Rep. Michael Zalewski, believes self-driving cars will help make the roads safer while also helping underserved groups like the elderly.

"I envision a scenario where we help older drivers whose reflexes and motor skills are deteriorating, say look, you can continue to get to the store, the church and the senior club, but we’re just going to make it really easy for you by taking the driving out of your hands and making you safer when you do that,” said Zalewski.

Zalewski says Illinois needs to prepare for technology that's already being deployed throughout the country and begin regulating it.

Legislators plan to continue working on the langue in the bill to address safety and liability concerns before presenting it to the house in April.

"Our statutes aren’t designed to have self-driving vehicles, so there’s a lot of work to do to make sure we’re ready when these cars hit the road,” said Zalewski.

The bill would take effect as soon as it's signed into law. But it's unclear when we'd actually start to see self-driving vehicles on the road, that would be up to the manufacturers.