Congress Hopeful to Move Autonomous Car Legislation in 2018

JANUARY 3, 2018

Congressional Republicans are cautiously optimistic that they will achieve a compromise in 2018 on self-driving vehicle legislation.

The House passed last year its autonomous vehicle legislation, the “Designating Each Cars Automation Level Act”; however, the Senate’s companion bill, the “American Vision for Safer Transportation Through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act” has stalled on the Senate floor.

Currently, the House-passed bill 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.

However, Senate and House Republicans have expressed an interest in expanding the scope of the legislation in 2018 to include trucks that weigh more than 10,000 pounds. 

In an interview, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) stated, “It’s [heavy-duty trucks] something we really need to deal with, elements of that technology are already in trucks and they’ll just continue to build on that.”

Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) added, “The technology is coming fast and industry isn’t necessarily going to wait for the government to start implementing.”

While many are optimistic about the autonomous vehicles, there is some concern about the technologies affect on the nation’s work force, particularly truck drivers.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) highlighted that concern at a roundtable hosted last month by the House Transportation Committee, “Experts testifying at our roundtable said that drivers are still indispensable to the industry. However, Congress needs to dive in now to think through what it would mean to the economy if 2 million truck drivers and half a million bus drivers, who have significant skills, are out of work, and what Congress can do about it.”