Stakeholders Press Senate on Driverless Car Legislation

MARCH 7, 2018

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UA group of more than 100 companies sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) this week, urging the Senate to consider and quickly pass its autonomous vehicle legislation --the AV START Act (S. 1885). S. 1885 covers cars and trucks that are lighter than 10,000 pounds and is intended to provide the framework to allow autonomous vehicle technology to be implemented in the U.S. and also contains preemption language to ensure that states do not enact an unworkable patchwork of inconsistent regulations.

After the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved the bill last year by voice vote, S. 1885 hit a “speed bump” when several Senators raised objections related to privacy and safety, as well as a demand to expand the current bill to cover heavy-duty trucks.
In the letter signed by Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, and others, the group highlights that the legislation is fundamental as 94 percent of crashes on U.S. roads (resulting in 37,000 fatalities) was attributed to human error. The letter also comes on the heels of a recent announcement by the California Department of Motor Vehicles that it would allow fully autonomous, driverless vehicles to be tested on public streets for the first time starting in April 2018.

The group noted that a key component of the AV Start Act is to “protect against a patchwork of regulations [such as in California] that could stifle innovation, job growth, and the development of safety technologies that will reduce the number of lives lost of U.S. roadways.” The Senate was urged to pass the bill before the Memorial Day recess.