Congressional Inaction on Federal AV Legislation Could Slow the Development of Life-saving Technologies and Greater Mobility Freedom


Despite strong support for autonomous vehicle legislation from Members of Congress and a diverse cross-section of stakeholders, efforts by a few special interests stalled bipartisan legislation in the 115th Congress. Inaction by Congress is a setback for the development and ultimate deployment of potentially life-saving technologies, and leaves many unanswered questions on how this technology will be regulated.

Federal legislation is needed to provide greater oversight of automated vehicle technologies and help avoid an unworkable patchwork of conflicting state laws and regulations. A lack of national leadership could delay the rollout of promising safety innovations and cause uncertainty when it comes to critical investments, threatening American competitiveness.

Simply put, the status quo is unacceptable. Last year, over 37,000 Americans lost their lives on our nation’s roadways. The development of advanced vehicle technologies are key to addressing the 94% of accidents involving human choice or error—such as speeding, drunk, drugged or distracted driving according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Despite this setback, automakers remain committed to working with bipartisan leaders in the 116th Congress to ensure the tremendous benefits of these technologies continue to be developed. The promise of these advancements will not only lead to safer roads, but will also expand mobility options for persons with disabilities, seniors, and those who require access to more affordable transportation.

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Background on the legislative process for autonomous vehicle (AV) bills in the 115th Congress:

In 2017, both the House and Senate initially moved swiftly to address the shortcomings in AV oversight and regulations by passing a bipartisan bill 54-0 out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and unanimously by the full House. A bipartisan bill was then passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee by voice vote after adopting 26 amendments from both Republicans and Democrats.