SELF DRIVE Act: Setting the Record Straight on Safety


WASHINGTON, DC – One year ago this week, the House made history in passing the bipartisan SELF DRIVE Act, the first-of-its-kind federal safety framework for self-driving cars. It advanced by voice vote, after unanimous approval by the Energy and Commerce Committee. Since then, companion legislation has stalled in the Senate. One easily debunked criticism is that the bill allows self-driving cars to be sold to the public without safety standards. This couldn’t be further from reality, and it’s important to set the record straight.

For any vehicle, traditional or self-driving, to be entered into commerce, the vehicle must meet all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) or be granted an exemption from the Secretary of Transportation. Exemptions are extremely important because they allow automakers the space to innovate outside of traditional features, but the process requires there be no reduction in overall safety. If a manufacturer seeks an exemption for a self-driving car, then the SELF DRIVE Act requires that manufacturer to prove that the vehicle is as safe or safer than traditional, nonexempt vehicles before it can be sold.

To ensure safety, the bill directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to make this determination based on detailed analysis of required test data and safety assessment certifications. The bill limits the total number of exemptions a manufacturer may be granted each year, creating a phased-in approach that begins at 25,000 the first year and increases to 100,000 over four years.

Under the SELF DRIVE Act, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) keeps all of its current enforcement tools to protect the public as well. The bill NHTSA’s broad recall authority, civil and criminal penalty authority, as well as access to safety records. This is critical because it ensures NHTSA has the necessary tools to remove vehicles off our roadways that it deems unsafe.

This heightened transparency creates an environment where innovation can thrive while appropriate and aggressive oversight ensures it’s being done safely.

Self-driving vehicle technology is being developed now, and it’s going to make America’s roads safer, improve mobility for those with disabilities and the elderly, and create new economic opportunity. The further the Senate delays, the longer the American people stand to miss out on this critical safety innovation.

Click here for a Myth vs. Fact, setting the record straight on the biggest misconceptions about the SELF DRIVE Act.

Click here for more resources on the legislation.