Self-driving cars have the potential to put those with disabilities in the driver’s seat. This issue is personal for #SubDCCP Vice Chairman Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) whose active and hardworking son, Livingston, was born with Fragile X Syndrome.
The Washington Examiner talked to Rep. Harper about how self-driving technologies would open up new opportunities for Livingston and the millions of Americans who live with intellectual and physical disabilities. With the SELF DRIVE Act passed by the House, we are one step closer to making widespread use of this technology a reality.
Washington Examiner: For Gregg Harper, the issue of driverless cars is personal
Livingston Harper always wants to be on the move. At least that’s what his father, Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., says.
Livingston, 28, wants to go to ball games, the book store — a place he loves — or to the local restaurant where he works Monday through Friday.
But for Livingston, going to these places requires the help of his parents, sister or brother-in-law.
The 28-year-old was born with Fragile X syndrome, a condition that causes intellectual disabilities. During Livingston’s childhood, Gregg Harper told the Washington Examiner his son was late to walking and late to talking, “but if you met him, you’d want to take him home with you,” he said.
Livingston was one of the first two students to graduate from the ACCESS program at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss., which is designed to help students with disabilities with the transition to college, Harper said.
Today, he works during the week at a local restaurant in Mississippi.
But getting to and from work, and all the other places he wants to go, is difficult for Livingston. He can’t drive, so he’s dependent on others to take him places.
“I think it’s frustrating for him sometimes because he can’t just say, ‘Hey, tomorrow at 2 pm I’m going to run to Barnes & Noble for an hour,'” Harper said. “It just doesn’t work that way for him. I think that restricts him by not having the flexibility like someone who could drive to be able to go and do that. For us, that’s a game-changer.”
But that could all soon change for Livingston, as Congress has begun to make progress on legislation to allow more self-driving cars on the road.
This month, the House passed by voice vote a bipartisan bill providing the federal government with a framework for developing regulations for driverless cars.
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