In the News

ICYMI: The economic and societal impacts of self-driving cars


11.01.17

Energy and Commerce Committee member Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) took to the Springfield News-Leader to discuss the SELF DRIVE Act and how the legislation will help unlock the potential of self-driving cars.

Rep. Long wrote: “Over the past year and a half, the Energy and Commerce Committee has held several hearings, technology showcases and real-life demonstrations highlighting both the societal and economic impacts of self-driving cars. Recently, the House of Representatives passed the Safety Ensuring Lives Future Development and Research in Vehicle Evolution Act, which addresses concerns surrounding self-driving cars. This bill aims to ensure safety while also clearing a path for further testing, development and deployment of these cars. As technology continues to change, hitting these challenges head-on is vital to making sure we do not hinder innovation but also remain safe while promoting ingenuity.”

The Springfield News-Leader: The economic and societal impacts of self-driving cars

My driving career got off to a rather inauspicious start. My dad took me way out in the country by Greenlawn Cemetery, got out of the car and had me move behind the wheel. He got back in the passenger side and off we went almost a full quarter of a mile. Then it happened. Another kid whose dad had picked the same location for his first driving lesson turned towards us from a crossroad. When he saw us, at first he panicked. He then pulled off into the ditch, gunned it, came flying out of the ditch and smashed into us. Other than three other minor wrecks since, only one of which was my fault, the last 47 years of driving have been remarkably uneventful.

Over the past year and a half, the Energy and Commerce Committee has held several hearings, technology showcases and real-life demonstrations highlighting both the societal and economic impacts of self-driving cars. Recently, the House of Representatives passed the Safety Ensuring Lives Future Development and Research in Vehicle Evolution Act, which addresses concerns surrounding self-driving cars. This bill aims to ensure safety while also clearing a path for further testing, development and deployment of these cars. As technology continues to change, hitting these challenges head-on is vital to making sure we do not hinder innovation but also remain safe while promoting ingenuity.

When will fully self-driving cars be available? Much sooner than you think. According to some estimates, it could be as soon as 2020 or 2025. Once available, estimates show that by 2035 there will be 12 million fully self-driving cars. However, self-driving cars, just like regular cars, will be held to the same standards and regulations set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration under the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

Why is all of this important? Safety. In 2015, there were 35,092 traffic fatalities and more than 2 million people injured in the U.S. In 2016, this number increased by 6 percent, resulting in 40,200 fatalities. This is the highest number of traffic fatalities in a single year over the last decade. What was the primary cause for all of these traffic fatalities? Human error.

Self-driving cars, with the help of cutting-edge technology, work to eliminate human error, such as blind spots, slow reactions times and unpredictable driving behaviors. These cars would have 360-degree awareness and advanced collision avoidance systems, which would drastically cut traffic accidents and fatalities.

Click here to read the full op-ed.

Click here to learn more about the SELF DRIVE Act.

In the News