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Congressional Leaders Shift Self-Driving Car Talks Into High Gear


WASHINGTON, DC – Congressional leaders are shifting into high gear on self-driving car legislation. The House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senate Commerce Committee are engaging automakers, safety groups, and other industry stakeholders for their input on developing a bipartisan, bicameral self-driving car bill.

Remember: Last Congress, under then-Chairman Greg Walden’s (R-OR) leadership, the Energy and Commerce Committee spearheaded House passage of Rep. Bob Latta’s (R-OH) SELF DRIVE Act, first-of-its-kind legislation to ensure the safe and innovative development, testing, and deployment of self-driving cars.

Now, bipartisan leaders in the House and Senate are revving up efforts to get self-driving vehicle legislation across the finish line and signed into law.

House, Senate Revive Self-Driving Car Bill Talks With Industry 

Self-driving vehicle legislation could get new legs this Congress as House and Senate committee staffers reached out to industry groups Tuesday to revive conversations on what a federal framework for how the transportation technology should look, according to a Senate committee aide.

House Energy and Commerce and Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation staffs have been meeting in recent months to come to an agreement on priorities and principles for a new autonomous vehicle push in this Congress.

Now largely on the same page, they are turning outwards for the first time in this Congress to gather feedback on issues including the necessary vehicle standards and addressing cybersecurity concerns, the Senate aide said.

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U.S. Congress seeks to jump start stalled self-driving car bill

The House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senate Commerce Committee sent automakers, safety groups and others interested in the bill a request for input and said they were working on a “bipartisan and bicameral basis to develop a self-driving car bill.”

The letter sought input by Aug. 23 on a variety of issues including federal rules – both current or new – testing, privacy, disability access, cybersecurity, consumer education and crash data.

The U.S. House unanimously passed legislation in September 2017 by voice vote to speed the adoption of self-driving cars, but it stalled in the Senate last year. Despite a series of concessions by automakers, the bill could not overcome objections of some Democrats who said it did not do enough to resolve safety concerns.

Under the prior legislation, automakers would have been able to win exemptions from safety rules that require human controls. States could set rules on registration, licensing, liability, insurance and safety inspections but not set performance standards.

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