Self-Driving Legislation Bridges Bipartisan Divide in DC

By July 24, 2017 Blog No Comments
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David M. Hickey
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Self drive car

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, nineteen states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation concerning self-driving vehicles.

The self-driving vehicle industry currently faces a bewildering array of legislation and executive orders across the length and breadth of the United States. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, nineteen states – Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Vermont – and the District of Columbia have passed legislation concerning self-driving vehicles. Four other states – Arizona, Massachusetts, Washington and Wisconsin – have issued executive order related to self-driving vehicles.

And, the pace of such legislative efforts appears to be accelerating. In the first half of 2017, 33 states have introduced self-driving legislation. Last year in total, 20 states introduced such legislation.

The states’ frenzy to enact such legislation may be reaching the end of the road. Last week, in a striking display of bi-partisan cooperation, the House Panel on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection unanimously passed a landmark self-driving bill that would prohibit any state or municipality from imposing its own laws concerning the design and construction of self-driving vehicles and allow the industry to deploy up to 100,000 self-driving vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards. A link to the bill can be found here.

The bill is largely viewed as a significant boost to the self-driving vehicle industry and is expected to speed the delivery of self-driving vehicles to market. The bill is a stark recognition that self-driving vehicles are expected to save a considerable number of lives, reduce healthcare spending by billions of dollars a year, and improve mobility for the elderly and disabled.

Federal officials have reported that 94 percent of auto accidents are caused by human error. Road deaths in the United States rose 7.7 percent in 2015 to 35,200. Traffic related deaths again rose an alarming 8 percent in just the first nine months of 2016. Experts have indicated that on a global basis self-driving vehicles can be expected to reduce the annual 1.2 million traffic fatalities and save 10 million lives per decade.

The Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oregon), has indicated that his committee could take up the bill as early as this week. The full House is not expected to act on the bill until after September.

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