What’s Going on with the Autonomous Vehicle Bill?

The AV START Act has been stuck in neutral since October, when it unanimously passed the Senate Commerce Committee. Ford has strongly advocated for passage to enable and accelerate deployment of autonomous vehicles (AV) in the U.S.

More than 100 organizations signed a letter this week encouraging U.S. Senate leadership to quickly pass the bipartisan legislation that would allow companies to test and deploy autonomous vehicles while setting clear authority for state and federal governments.

Ford led efforts with the Coalition for Future Mobility to gather signatures from key stakeholders in autonomous vehicle technology, including manufacturers, suppliers, technology and communications companies, mobility providers, state and city governments, safety and national security groups, seniors, and persons with disabilities.

The letter highlights the potential autonomous vehicles have to reduce traffic fatalities. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, human error is a factor in nearly 94 percent of all crashes in the U.S.

The safety of autonomous vehicles has been a hotly contested issue as the bill moved through the legislative process. Below you can see what critics are saying about the AV legislation as well as counterpoints. We want employees to be informed so you’re able to become an advocate for this important policy for our company’s future. 

CRITICS SAY: The AV legislation takes power away from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to regulate autonomous vehicles and weakens its ability to hold automakers accountable for safety.

FACT: The AV START Act does nothing to diminish NHTSA’s regulatory authority. It strengthens NHTSA’s existing safety oversight and preserves the regulator’s ability to investigate incidents and issue recalls. Manufacturers will have to demonstrate to NHTSA that their autonomous vehicles are as safe as traditional vehicles before they will be allowed on the road.

CRITCS SAY: There is no need for new regulations to allow autonomous vehicles on the roads, this bill is trying to “solve” a problem that doesn’t exist!

FACT: The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards were written at a time well before anyone even considered driverless vehicles. NHTSA is working on a rewrite of the regulations, but it will take years to finalize them. Automakers are testing AVs now, but need to be able to deploy them on a larger scale to collect data and facilitate consumer use of the technology in the future.

CRITICS SAY: The bill takes the power to protect drivers away from cities and states.

FACT: The AV START Act does nothing to limit a city’s or state’s existing authority in traditional areas of vehicle regulation, such as insurance, registration requirements, and traffic safety laws. What the bill does do is clarify NHTSA’s sole authority to set vehicle safety standards in order to ensure uniformity across all 50 states. This is a reflection of current practice for traditional vehicles.

View More
Go to top