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BLOG: America Must Pave the Way for Self-Driving Cars


05.31.18

Self-driving cars hold the promise to make roads safer, create new economic opportunities, and help those with disabilities live more independently. That’s why the Energy and Commerce Committee produced the SELF DRIVE Act, to create clear rules of the road for the safe testing and deployment of self-driving cars across the country. Despite unanimous committee approval and a voice vote on the House floor, the Senate has yet to take action on this important, bipartisan bill.

Without a national framework, there is a real risk of states developing a patchwork of laws related to self-driving cars. This means uncertainty for innovators, and the U.S. potentially losing its competitive edge to countries in Europe and Asia that have already enacted legislation. Folks at the state and local levels may already be starting to feel the effects.

As Detroit News columnist Daniel Howes writes in his recent column: “…the increasingly competitive race for talent and investment — epitomized best by the disruptive, tech-driven mobility revolution — is revealing just how far Michigan needs to go to get in the game.”

The column continues, “That’s only part of the challenge as Michigan and its Motor City push to negotiate their place in a future arguably no one can completely discern in these opening years of Auto 2.0, the confluence of mobility, autonomy and electrification. Mounting evidence suggests Michigan is competing for — and often losing — big economic prizes that would signal whether outsiders with options think the state and its largest metro area are ‘prepared,’ in the jargon of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac conference, for ‘the mobility disruption.’”

In the global race to develop this emerging technology, Americans stand to miss out on economic growth, jobs, and improved safety. The Senate should quickly pass self-driving car legislation before innovators and investors begin to look elsewhere.

The SELF DRIVE Act:

  • Was approved by the Energy and Commerce Committee by 54-0 on July 27, 2017. It then passed the House by voice vote on September 6, 2017.
  • Improves the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) access to safety data for future updates and development of safety standards and provides greater transparency for disclosures for the public.
  • Requires the submission of safety assessment certifications by manufacturers of self-driving cars.
  • Strengthens NHTSA’s ability to update 1970s era regulation.
  • Maintains NHTSA’s broad recall authority to remove self-driving cars off our roadways that it deems unsafe.
  • Clarifies the state and federal roles with respect to self-driving cars.
    • States will continue to control vehicle registration, licensing, driving education and training, insurance, law enforcement, crash investigations, safety and emissions inspections, congestion management, and traffic laws.
    • NHTSA will continue to be the agency responsible for regulating the safety of the design, construction, and performance of self-driving cars to avoid requirements that would prohibit or limit interstate commerce and travel.

Click here to learn more about the SELF DRIVE Act.

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