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ICYMI: GM CEO Barra Calls for Federal Framework for Self-Driving Cars


Washington, DC – In an opinion piece for Axios, General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra called for federal legislation to “provide a path for manufacturers to put self-driving vehicles on the roads safely, while allowing continued innovation.” Barra went on to highlight the SELF DRIVE Act, which passed the House of Representatives unanimously, and the AV START Act, similar legislation that is languishing in the Senate.

The SELF DRIVE Act is first-of-its-kind legislation to ensure the safe and innovative development, testing, and deployment of self-driving cars. This bipartisan bill provides a much-needed federal safety framework to support self-driving technology and its potential to save lives on the road, improve mobility, and create new economic opportunity across the country. Without a national policy, there is a real risk of states developing a patchwork of laws related to self-driving cars. This leads to uncertainty for innovators and investors, and the U.S. losing its competitive edge to countries in Europe and Asia that have already enacted legislation.

Why self-driving cars need federal regulations

By GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra

Zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion — this is General Motors’ vision. These potential benefits of self-driving technology can only be fully realized when self-driving cars are deployed in large numbers, and when riders feel comfortable and secure.

What’s needed: Federal legislation would provide a path for manufacturers to put self-driving vehicles on the roads safely, while allowing continued innovation. Current federal law prohibits deployment of self-driving vehicles without steering wheels and other conventional driver controls. And other regulations for self-driving cars vary from state to state.

Why it matters: Every year, crashes claim the lives of approximately 1.2 million people around the world — about 40,000 of them in the U.S. And 94% of traffic crashes in the U.S. are caused by human error. Because self-driving vehicles do not operate impaired, tired or distracted, they offer a compelling solution. And when self-driving vehicles are electric, they will help to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy.

What to watch: The SELF DRIVE Act, passed by the House of Representatives, and the AV START Act, pending in the Senate, would direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue new and revised safety regulations on an expedited basis. The bills would allow safe self-driving deployment during the period between enactment and NHTSA’s issuance of new regulations, but only by manufacturers that prove their self-driving cars are as safe as human drivers.

The bottom line: Transitioning to a self-driving society will take time, and will require cooperation and collaboration by the private and public sectors. Federal legislation is essential to enabling the journey.

Read the full piece online HERE.

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