Uber Car Death Doesn't Faze Kasich From Making Ohio `Wild West'

(Bloomberg) -- John Kasich says he wants to make Ohio the “wild, wild west” for self-driving car testing, regardless of the recent fatal crash involving Uber Technologies Inc.

The Republican governor called the March 18 Uber incident “terrible,” but is plowing ahead anyway. The executive order he signed today allows companies to test cars on any public road in the state, including without anyone behind the wheel. A licensed driver will have to be monitoring the car remotely and have the ability to avoid accidents if the car’s system fails, according to the order.

“You’ll always have to take risks,” Kasich said Wednesday while announcing the order. “If you don’t take risks, you die.”

Kasich, the last candidate to concede the Republican nomination for president in 2016, said he grew “more and more angry” when reading about how Pittsburgh had become a chosen testing ground for Uber several years ago, because Ohio wasn’t keeping up. “I kept saying to my folks, ‘What are we doing here?”’ he said.

Uber’s Testing

He didn’t mention reports that Uber’s relationship with residents and city officials deteriorated within a matter of months. Arizona ordered the ride-hailing giant to stop operating autonomous cars there indefinitely a week after the death of a pedestrian who was crossing the road at night in Tempe. Uber had already voluntarily halted testing companywide and hasn’t resumed putting its self-driving cars on public roads.

Kasich, 65, said his mother and father were killed by drunk drivers, and that autonomous vehicles will prevent “senseless death” and “carnage” on highways. The governor said Ohio should rank among the top five states for development of the technology, along with California, Arizona, Florida and Michigan. The last state is, of course, a familiar rival for Buckeyes.

“We got the winning team,” Kasich said. “You just got to put the ball in the end zone, and I think with this executive order, it’s going to send a big message that we’re ready to roll.”

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