WASHINGTON, DC – Summertime means school is out and families across the country are hitting the road for vacation. It can also mean inexperienced drivers behind the wheel, added congestion, and increased unpredictability on our roadways. With an estimated 94% of car accidents attributable to human error, like distracted and impaired driving, self-driving cars have the potential to make America’s roads safer and change the status quo. The SELF DRIVE Act supports the safe development, testing, and deployment of this technology to help get us there.
As we approach one year since the House unanimously passed the bipartisan SELF DRIVE Act, progress continues to stall in the Senate. The longer Congress waits to pass legislation on self-driving technology, the longer the U.S. stands to miss out on critical safety technology as well as the opportunity to remain a leader in innovation on the world stage.
The SELF DRIVE Act puts in place the first national framework for self-driving cars, requiring manufacturers to prove that the self-driving vehicle is as safe or safer than traditional cars on the road today. Under the bill, the Department of Transportation makes this determination based on detailed analysis of test data and safety assessment certifications required by the automaker. This increased transparency, coupled with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) recall authority, creates an environment where innovation can thrive with appropriate and aggressive oversight to ensure such it is being done safely and responsibly.
But before that happens, the SELF DRIVE Act ensures there are clear rules of the road in place for safe testing and development. Consistent with today’s regulatory structure for traditional vehicles, the federal government will continue to regulate the design, construction, and performance of vehicles, and states will continue to regulate traffic laws, law enforcement, licensing and registration, driver education, safety inspections, and more.
This does not shut out states from protecting their citizens. In fact, clearly defined roles for the state and federal government will only enhance safety, ensuring everybody on the road is abiding by the same framework across state lines. Without a national policy, there is a real risk of states developing a patchwork of laws for self-driving cars, leading to greater uncertainty and confusion for drivers and innovators alike.
In 2016, NHTSA reported nearly 40,000 highway fatalities, 2.5 million injuries, and over 6 million car accidents. We do not have to accept a world where this is a necessary evil of driving.
The Senate must act on self-driving legislation so all Americans can fully realize this incredible technology and its potential to save lives, improve mobility, and create new economic opportunity nationwide.
Click here for a Myth vs. Fact dispelling the biggest misconceptions about the SELF DRIVE Act.
Click here for more resources on the bipartisan legislation.