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Autonomous Vehicle Legislation Stalled By Senate Democrats

The legislation, which establishes a regulatory framework for fully autonomous vehicles operating on American roads, contains an amendment sponsored by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and supported by the Auto Care Association that would create a federal advisory committee to provide recommendations to Congress on consumer control of vehicle data.

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Photo credit: iStock.com/Karneg

Five Democratic U.S. Senators have sent a letter to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) requesting more stringent safety measures be inserted into Senate Bill 1885, or the “American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies” (AV START) Act.

The legislation, which establishes a regulatory framework for fully autonomous vehicles operating on American roads, contains an amendment sponsored by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and supported by the Auto Care Association that would create a federal advisory committee to provide recommendations to Congress on consumer control of vehicle data.

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Opposition by these five senators has stalled the bill, which remains to be voted on by the full Senate.

Signed by Sens. Feinstein (D-Calif.), Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Markey (D-Mass.), Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Udall (D-N.M.), the March 14 letter requests that the bill be amended to require that partially or semi-autonomous vehicles be subjected to the same safety evaluation reporting as fully autonomous or driverless vehicles. Their concerns are based on a second National Highway Safety Board (NTSB) investigation in as many years into an accident possibly caused by human overreliance on semi-autonomous systems. Uber recently suspended its autonomous testing after a vehicle in autonomous mode struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. In addition, the senators mention cybersecurity and consumer privacy as important issues to consider as well.

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A copy of the letter from the five Democrats can be found here.

Auto Care Association members willing to send a letter to their elected officials in support of S.B. 1885 and the Inhofe amendment can visit the Auto Care Association’s advocacy center at autocareadvocacy.org.

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