The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved landmark self-driving car legislation, the SELF DRIVE Act.
The legislation, H.R. 3388, is the first bill passed at the federal level to address self-driving technology. aims to improve consumer safety by reducing traffic-related fatalities and injuries, clarify the federal and state roles, and stimulate job growth and economic opportunities.
The SELF-DRIVE Act focuses on four key areas: Consumer Protection, Fostering Innovation, Increasing Mobility, and Promoting Research and Development. The SELF-DRIVE Act will also help create a clear path for the safe testing, development, and deployment of self-driving cars in the United States.
The bill would pre-empt states from implementing certain laws governing the new technology. It would also allow car manufacturers to deploy up to 100,000 self-driving cars a year that don’t meet normal safety standards. In the first year, however, that number will be capped at 25,000.
States will still be responsible for vehicle registration, insurance, driver education, law enforcement and other local issues. Manufacturers will be required to include cybersecurity and privacy protections in their vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will be in charge of regulating the industry’s traffic safety standards.
“Self-driving cars hold the promise of making America’s roads safer, creating new economic opportunities, and helping seniors and those with disabilities live more independently,” said U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
“The SELF DRIVE Act strikes the critical balance of enhancing consumer safety while promoting the continued development of this cutting-edge technology,” said Walden. “This bipartisan bill paves the way for advanced collision avoidance systems and self-driving cars nationwide, and ensures that America stays a global leader in innovation.”
Next week, the Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing to examine self-driving trucks, an issue that wasn’t covered in the House legislation.
“The passage of the SELF DRIVE Act is an important milestone in the development, testing, and deployment of self-driving cars,” said Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio). “Autonomous vehicle technology has the possibility to reduce deaths on our nation’s roadways by the tens of thousands, and accidents by the millions.”