Congress Finalizing Framework for Autonomous Vehicles

The United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce released several new sections of a draft bill governing the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles.

New sections of the bipartisan bill under discussion concern topics such as cybersecurity, inoperative controls, crash data, personnel and staffing, and consumer education. Although members are still negotiating language for the final bill, lawmakers are close to finalizing the process attempting to reach bipartisan consensus.

From NACo’s blog:

The draft bill comes in response to increased pressure from industry and stakeholders to provide a regulatory framework for the new, fast-developing industry. However, efforts have failed in the past largely due to concerns from outside groups, including concerns about forced arbitration in previous versions of the framework.

For counties and other state and local governments, the main sticking point in negotiations continues to be the potential federal preemption of state and local regulations.

State and local governments have raised concerns over provisions preempting states and localities from adopting laws, regulations and standards that would regulate many aspects of autonomous vehicles, including those that would impact safety. Federal legislation that would preempt the ability of a county to regulate technology that has a direct impact on the safety of our residents and that also does not establish meaningful safety guidance itself can result in a safety vacuum where no one can act, resulting in unsafe, unregulated technology on our local roads. Stakeholders are looking for language clarifying that state and local governments would not lose their traditional authority over traffic laws.

Although Congress has been working on major autonomous vehicle legislation since 2018, nothing has successfully been passed. Watch the live stream of the Congressional hearing below.