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New Laws Pushing Driverless Cars to Roam the Streets Legally

Self Drive Act

When the self-driving car debuted in August 1961, the innovative mode of transportation proved that it deserved a spot on the streets. To date, lawmakers in the United States are doing everything they can to legitimize the use of self-driving cars. They believe that autonomous vehicles could make a bold impact on the society.

The technological advancements made to autonomous vehicles are just hints of what’s more to come. Which is why, bills like the Safety Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research in Vehicle Evolution (Self Drive Act), and the American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies (AV Start Act) will definitely help self-driving cars reach their full potential.

What is the Self Drive Act?

In September of last year, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the Self Drive Act. The legislation guarantees that autonomous vehicles will have a safe and advance development. It also promises self-driving cars a positive testing and an upright deployment.

According to Greg Walden, the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, “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.”

Reports suggested that Representative Robert Latta, R-Ohio sponsored the Self Drive Act. It also took more than 300 meetings with the stakeholders before the House approved the legislation.

The first thing to remember about the Self Drive Act is its collaboration with the Department of Transportation. The organization has two years to release a new rule for the manufacturers of driverless vehicles. The rule will oblige manufacturers to present safety assessment certification.

Second, the Department of Transportation has only a year to issue a safety security strategy. In the plan, the organization will assist manufacturers with the creation of a driverless car to its deployment.

Lastly, manufacturers need to prove that their autonomous cars are safe. If that happens, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will grant them exemptions. The said exemptions would begin at 25,000 and will grow on years to come.

All About the AV Start Act

Senator John Thune and Senator Gary Peters sponsored the AV Start Act. The bill creates guidelines for the technology of highly automated vehicles (HAV). People considered the statute as a Senate’s bill. AV Start Act also got the green light from the Senate Commerce Committee in October of last year.

Just like the Self Drive Act, the Senate’s law also allows the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to control the overall performance of the self-driving cars. Critics say that the said statute has already made various state and local officials happy.

The United States Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, and the National Governors Association are just some agencies that support the AV Start Act. The agencies stated in their letter that, “With this approach, state and local laws will continue to focus on the operational safety laws regulating motor vehicles and their operators after such vehicles have been constructed and introduced to public roadways.”

The bill lets manufacturers present the safety evaluation reports of their driverless cars to the Department of Transportation. The reports tackle areas like cybersecurity, crashworthiness, and safety. These reports must then proceed to the federal government before manufacturers start to create and deploy their cars.

Cities and Technologies: Elements that Could Help the New Laws Prosper

Self Drive Act and AV Start Act focus on protection, innovation, mobility, and development. If the laws achieved these four things, the world could see an 80% reduction in road accidents by 2040.

This data from the consulting firm, KMPG is a living testimony that different places in America are on board to new laws. Last year, 33 states have presented legislation related to self-driving vehicles.

The District of Columbia also known as Washington, D.C. is giving autonomous vehicles a voice of their own. With the help of the automotive manufacturer, Audi Washington, D.C. was able to inaugurate a pilot project.

Because of Audi’s Traffic Light Information feature, its car models can now get information from a centralized traffic light system. Drivers will know how much time left before the red light turns to green.

Scott Keogh, the President of Audi in America, said, “Not only do vehicle-to-infrastructure technologies like Traffic Light Information help to reduce driver stress, they are also essential infrastructure developments as we continue toward an automated future.”

The TLI feature of Audi started in Las Vegas in 2016 and now, different cities are adopting it. From Dallas to Palo Alto, the TLI feature is creating a bold impact on the growing industry of driverless cars.

Right now, Audi is using a 4G LTE hotspot in order to process the feature of TLI. However, the automotive manufacturer is planning to upgrade once the technology of 5G is out on the market.

A Roadblock for the New Laws

In spite efforts of strengthening the laws for driverless cars, there are still people who oppose to the idea – and a prominent one is Senator Dianne Feinstein.

She said, “It seems to me that you have to have a period of time where these cars are put on roads, but not necessarily heavily impacted California freeways that are going 65 to 75 miles per hour. That’s my view, I’m a driver, and I know I wouldn’t feel very comfortable.”

Feinstein and other senators are demanding some changes to the new legislation. She believed that driverless cars are not yet ready for roadways or they might be prone to cyberattacks. According to Feinstein, she just wants to ensure the safety of the people.

Senator Richard Blumenthal also supports Feinstein, saying that the computer-driven cars are unproven technology. He recently test drove a Tesla Model 3 and Blumenthal said the Tesla left him with a “false sense of security” and would have collided with the other car without Fisher’s intervention.

“It felt frightening to be headed in a vehicle with no guarantee it would stop,” he said.

However, the people who support the new bills like Senator John Thune mentioned that they are willing to work with critics who have objections and give a proper solution to their concerns. Thune is willing to do all this as long as the changes will not undermine the real point of the legislation.

Self Drive Act and AV Start Act are just the first ones that could help better the purpose of the autonomous vehicles. Moreover, politicians need to find a common ground to implement better legislation for the growing industry of driverless cars.


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