Hundreds of Thousands of Potentially Dangerous AV’s Could Be Unleashed onto American Roads with the Re-introduced SELF DRIVE Act

The future of vehicles is autonomous, but the road to fully autonomous vehicles (AVs) contains numerous detours, potholes and speed bumps.

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Why Autonomous Matters: AVs have the potential to be a technological vaccine that could dramatically reduce the tragic toll that vehicles take on our society. However, like any successful vaccine, AVs need to be thoroughly tested to specific standards before they are made available to the public.

The Big Picture: Yesterday, Representative Bob Latta re-introduced the Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research in Vehicle Evolution (SELF DRIVE) Act. Since the SELF DRIVE Act was considered in the last Congress (H.R. 3388, 115th Congress), a number of serious and fatal crashes and investigations and recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board have made it increasingly clear that vehicles with autonomous capabilities and AVs are not yet ready for primetime. Even still, proponents in Congress often set aside these facts in favor of misleading claims and baseless assumptions as the rationale for pushing defective and deficient AV legislation. Our message to Congress then, as it is now, is to heed the well-known highway safety sign, “Slow Down and Save Lives.”

The Problems: Congress is proposing to unleash hundreds of thousands of autonomous vehicles into the market without establishing any performance standards. Right now, consumers are fearful of this potentially life-saving technology. If Congress successfully passes the SELF DRIVE Act, the inevitable tragic results will dramatically increase consumer anxiety and turn public sentiment against AVs. In order for AVs to become an accepted form of safe travel, strong legislation must address consumer privacy, cybersecurity, oversight, performance standards and data transparency.

Front and center is the concern about Congress’s efforts to allow AVs to circumvent current safety requirements. While the car companies need to test and experiment — unleashing hundreds of thousands of vehicles onto American roads without current safety standards would be a tragic nightmare for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians alike. And finally, there’s the issue of responsible oversight. Right now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) simply lacks the capacity to properly oversee and regulate this new technology — a situation that is further exacerbated by the fact that the White House continually proposes to reduce its funding.

Going Forward: CFA, representing more than 250 national, state and local organizations is joining with many, many others in repaving the road to safe, life-saving autonomous vehicles. The road to safety must include:

· Minimum performance standards for all of the features that enable autonomous driving.

· Complete public access to all of the data surrounding the performance of AVs and the technology that powers them.

· Publishing comparative performance results of the various AV features.

· Completely securing vehicle to everything (V2X) communications. The bandwidth must be protected from hackers and totally free from commercialization.

· Occupant safety must be paramount, especially child safety.

· NHTSA must be fully funded for independent standard development, hiring and training engineers capable of understanding autonomous vehicle technology, and sophisticated testing facilities.

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