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House passes bipartisan legislation paving the way for self-driving cars on America’s roads

The SELF DRIVE Act is first-of-its-kind legislation to ensure the safe and innovative development, testing, and deployment of self-driving cars. This bipartisan bill provides a much-needed federal safety framework to support self-driving technology and its potential to save lives on the road, improve mobility, and create new economic opportunity across the country.

Without a national policy, there is a real risk of states developing a patchwork of laws related to self-driving cars. This leads to uncertainty for innovators and investors, and the U.S. losing its competitive edge to countries in Europe and Asia that have already enacted legislation.

The SELF DRIVE Act was approved unanimously 54-0 out of the Energy and Commerce Committee and passed the House of Representatives by voice vote. Now, the Senate should act quickly to secure American leadership in this space so that folks nationwide can fully realize the potential safety and economic benefits of self-driving cars.

“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. The SELF DRIVE Act strikes the critical balance of enhancing consumer safety while promoting the continued development of this cutting-edge technology,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chairman Bob Latta (R-OH). “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.”

The SELF DRIVE Act, H.R. 3388, passed the House of Representatives by voice vote, and will;

  • Advance safety by prioritizing the protection of consumers.
  • Reaffirm the role and responsibilities of federal and state governments.
  • Update the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to account for advances in technology and the evolution of highly automated vehicles, and
  • Maximize opportunities for research and development here in the U.S. to create jobs and grow economic opportunities so that America can remain a global leader in this industry.


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Text of Legislation


Myth vs. Fact


Self-Driving Vehicle Legislation (June 27, 2017)

Self-Driving Cars: Levels of Automation (March 28, 2017)

Self-Driving Cars: Road to Deployment (February 14, 2017)

A Bipartisan Win

Check out what bipartisan members on the Energy and Commerce Committee said about the SELF DRIVE Act on the House floor:

Earlier today, our committee members spoke on the House floor about the SELF DRIVE Act. Here are some highlights! ?

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The Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection, chaired by Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH), paved the way for making the SELF DRIVE Act a bipartisan success. To date, the subcommittee has held three legislative hearings on the topic of self-driving cars with expert witnesses spanning government as well as tech, automobile, and consumer safety industries. Chairman Latta and the subcommittee unanimously advanced the draft legislation by voice vote.

The full Energy & Commerce Committee then passed the SELF DRIVE Act with unanimous support at 54-0. The committee held over 250 meetings to develop this legislation with a wide range of stakeholders including manufacturers, suppliers, tech companies, insurance providers, state government officials, seniors groups, and disability advocates. Chairman Walden spoke to the bipartisan nature of the legislation,

“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,” said Chairman Walden. “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.”

Saving Lives on the Road

Our country is experiencing an uptick in highway fatalities unlike any we have seen in decades. In 2016, there were an estimated 40,000 U.S. highway fatalities, 2.5 million injuries, and over 6 million car accidents. 94% of car accidents are attributable to human error.

Self-driving cars are projected to reduce traffic deaths by 90%, saving 30,000 lives a year.

To increase consumer safety in the testing, development, and deployment of self-driving cars, the SELF DRIVE Act will;

  • Clarify the role for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for regulating the safety of the design, construction, and performance of self-driving cars.
  • Improve NHTSA’s access to safety data for future updates and development of safety standards.
  • Establish NHTSA safety assessment certifications for manufacturers.
  • Enhance protections for cybersecurity, privacy, and consumer education.

In Chairman Latta’s words, “We don’t have to accept a world where millions of accidents and thousands of fatalities on the roadway are a necessary evil of driving.”

Greater Mobility for All

With self-driving cars, tasks like commuting to work, going to the doctor, and visiting family across town could become easier for seniors and those with disabilities.

During the full committee markup of the SELF DRIVE Act, Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee Vice Chairman Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) spoke about how self-driving technology could break down the transportation barriers facing the disabled community.

The SELF DRIVE Act supports greater mobility for all Americans by;

  • Establishing a Federal Advisory Council to ensure manufacturers and regulators understand the needs of populations traditionally underserved by public transportation as well as senior citizens and individuals with disabilities;
  •  Promoting educational outreach with respect to self-driving technology and its use by senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, and the implementation of this technology within communities traditionally underserved by public transportation; and
  • Ensuring manufacturers and regulators understand current impediments that may prevent individuals with disabilities from using self-driving cars.

With this legislation, we’re strengthening the promise of self-driving technology to improve the lives of millions of Americans who live with mobility and accessibility challenges.


Beyond Silicon Valley

The testing, development, and deployment of self-driving cars means economic opportunities for Americans beyond Silicon Valley. Take it from our members, who are already seeing the benefits back home.

The Toledo Blade: Legislators Tour Testing Grounds for Self-Driving Cars (August 15, 2017)

Where tens of thousands once toiled to make transmissions for traditional human-driven vehicles — and before that, built World War II bomber planes — a testing ground for automated cars and trucks now is under construction. The American Center for Mobility, a nonprofit corporation established early last year by the state of Michigan, expects a 2½ mile highway test loop across and near the grounds of the former General Motors Willow Run Transmission plant to be ready for use in December.

A second test facility representing urban driving conditions is slated for operation starting by the end of next year, and the $110 million project’s plans include future rural, residential, and even off-road test-driving areas. ACM showed off the facility Tuesday to reporters after U.S. Reps. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green) and Debbie Dingell (D., Dearborn) toured it and held a news conference to promote it and pending legislation they have co-sponsored to guide the development of national standards for automated vehicles. Click HERE to read the full article. 

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New Talk WSJM: Upton Talks Self-Driving Car Legislation (August 3, 2017)

Congressman Fred Upton is hailing committee passage last week of legislation designed to help regulate self-driving cars without holding back their development…Upton tells us self-driving vehicles could lead to the creation of thousands of jobs in Michigan, especially if the state becomes a major center of design and testing. Click HERE to read the full article. 

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What They’re Saying 

For a full wrap-up of what people are saying about the SELF DRIVE Act, click HERE

The Wall Street Journal: House approves self-driving car legislationThe House on Wednesday passed legislation aimed at removing regulatory barriers to development of self-driving cars, a victory for autonomous-vehicle companies that say a proliferation of state rules has created a confusing patchwork for the industry. The measure, approved by voice vote, faces tougher going in the Senate, where members are concerned about possible job losses in the trucking industry, and about consumer safety standards. (September 6, 2017) 

Wired: Congress unites (gasp) to spread self-driving cars across AmericaOn Wednesday, the House of Representatives did something that’s woefully uncommon these days: It passed a bill with bipartisan support. The bill, called the SELF DRIVE Act, lays out a basic federal framework for autonomous vehicle regulation, signaling that federal lawmakers are finally ready to think seriously about self-driving cars and what they mean for the future of the country. (September 6, 2017)

The Washington Post: The U.S. House just paved the way for more self-driving cars: Thousands of self-driving cars are now that much closer to hitting the streets as House lawmakers approved a bill Wednesday to expand companies’ ability to test the next-generation technology. It’s a major step forward for tech companies, Detroit manufacturers and urban planners who believe automated cars will transform the economy. (September 6, 2017)

TechCrunch: US House of Representatives passes new bipartisan self-driving car bill: The U.S. House approved a bill called the SELF-DRIVE act, which was put together bot both Democrats and Republicans – a rarity in today’s congressional goings-on. If it becomes law (which still requires it to pass the Senate), then it would make it possible for companies working on self-driving to field a lot more vehicles per year – as many as 100,000 autonomous test cars annually, in fact. (September 6, 2017)

The New York Times: Self-driving cars’ prospects rise with vote by House: Lawmakers in the House took a major step on Wednesday toward advancing the development of driverless cars, approving legislation that would put the vehicles onto public roads more quickly and curb states from slowing their spread. Under the bill, which was approved by a unanimous voice vote, carmakers can add hundreds of thousands of self-driving cars to America’s road in the next few years. States, which now have a patchwork of rules regulating the vehicles, would have to follow the new federal law. (September 6, 2017)

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: House bill would put thousands more autonomous vehicles on U.S. roads: The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill Wednesday, aimed at lifting motor vehicle standards that previously stymied the introduction of new technologies for autonomous cars. It could become the first federal law specifically aimed at self-driving vehicles, preempting state legislation. Under the bill, each autonomous car maker would eventually be able to deploy up to 100,000 vehicles in a 12-month period — currently, manufacturers may only deploy 2,500 each year. (September 6, 2017)

Bloomberg: Where Rosie Once Riveted, Cars Will Now Drive Themselves: In a rare show of bipartisanship, Latta’s panel last month unanimously approved legislation that allows manufacturers to test thousands of self-driving vehicles on public roads while safety regulators come up with rules for driverless rides. The bill would also prohibit states from regulating the mechanical, software and safety systems of autonomous cars. “We’re looking five and 10 years out,” Latta said. “We don’t want to have legislation out there or regulations that are going to stymie development” of autonomous vehicles. (August 21, 2017)

Recode: House lawmakers just took the next step toward allowing more self-driving cars on U.S. roads: A bill that would allow companies like Ford, Google and Uber to more easily test and deploy self-driving cars on U.S. roads inched ahead in Congress on Thursday, after House lawmakers voted to send it to the full chamber for consideration. It’s still far from becoming law, but its Democratic and Republican authors on the supportive House Energy and Commerce Committee believe their rare bipartisan proposal has a shot at success — despite tougher-than-ever partisan divisions on Capitol Hill. (July 27, 2017)

Wired: Congress Finally Gets Serious About Regulating Self-Driving CarsSeven years after Google started developing robocars, 14 months after a Florida man died in a Tesla Model S that was driving itself, and almost a year after self-driving Ubers started picking up passengers in Pennsylvania, Congress might actually start regulating autonomous vehicles. Nearly everyone working on this emerging technology, from automakers to the tech companies to the government watchdogs, agrees that it’s about time. (July 19, 2017)