The R Street Institute welcomes the Senate Commerce Committee’s passage of legislation that sets down federal policy to ensure the safe and timely development and deployment of autonomous vehicles on American roads.

Sponsored by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act, or S. 1885, accomplishes three primary goals for which R Street consistently advocates: reaffirming federal supremacy over design, safety and performance standards; a path to update the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) to reflect developments in autonomous-vehicle technology; and expanding both the number of exemptions available from today’s FMVSS and the breadth of manufacturers who can be eligible for exemptions for testing and deployment.

“The Senate Commerce Committee bucked serious pressure when it strengthened and clarified the bill’s pre-emption language,” said R Street Senior Fellow Ian Adams. “The committee produced sensible, clear delineations between state and federal responsibility, ensuring deployment is not stymied by regulatory uncertainty.”

While the framework reflected in the AV START Act is well-balanced, for reasons that are inexplicable, trucks that weigh more than 10,000 pounds were excluded from the legislation. In 2015, 3,852 people died in large truck crashes.

“Since 94 percent of auto accidents are due to human error, lives are lost every day that the lifesaving innovations of autonomous vehicles are delayed,” Adams said. “We hope subsequent legislative action will remedy this missed opportunity Following the momentum from the bipartisan passage of the SELF DRIVE Act in the House, we urge the Senate to act quickly on AV START.”

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