By Colleen Kave, J.D.
This week, the Energy and Commerce Committee approved H.R. 3388, Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research in Vehicle Evolution Act, or the "SELF DRIVE Act" by a vote of 54-0. Garnering unanimous bipartisan support, the bill will prioritize consumer safety, reduce traffic-related fatalities, and clarify federal and state roles around emerging automated vehicle technologies.
In a committee press release, Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) highlighted the cooperative effort of committee members, stating, "I truly believe the bipartisan bill-drafting process for self-driving legislation is an example of our committee at its best—working together to pursue the common goal of saving lives. Our aim was to develop a regulatory structure that allows for industry to safely innovate with significant government oversight—as safety must be the chief priority. And I believe today’s legislation strikes that critical balance."
The House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection previously held three hearings pertaining to the topic of self-driving bills, addressing topics such as the potential of automated vehicle technology, the timeframe for deployment of self-driving vehicles, the benefits of driver assistance systems, and discussion drafts of 14 self-driving bills that outlined member priorities which were incorporated into the final bill. Additionally, the subcommittee had more than 250 meetings in the past year, gathering input from industry stakeholders, the disability community, senior citizens, technology companies, trade associations, suppliers, state transportation leaders, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The SELF DRIVE Act aims to prevent crash-related deaths by: advancing safety through prioritization of consumer protection; reaffirming the roles and responsibilities of federal and state governments; updating the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) to account for advances in technology and evolution of highly automated vehicles (HAVs); and maximizing opportunities for research and development in the United States to create jobs and grow economic opportunities, thereby preserving American global leadership in the industry.
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