Representatives Robert Latta, a Republican, and Debbie Dingell, a Democrat, told Reuters in a joint interview they plan to unveil the bipartisan Congressional Autonomous Vehicle Caucus. The bill is designed to help educate other lawmakers on the importance of self-driving vehicles to renew interest in the legislation.
"We're working hard to find that common ground to get something that we can pass," Dingell told Reueters.
In July, the National Highway Traffic Administration reported that General Motors and Ford Motor has requested exemptions to deploy up to 2,500 self-driving vehicles annually. These vehicles would not have human controls like steering wheels or brake pedals.
"We both come from automobile states," Latta stressed in the interview. "It's important we keep our competitiveness in the United States -- that we are using U.S. technology, that it is not coming from China... It's got to be done here in the United States."
Latta acknowledged the legislature may not pass a bill for self-driving vehicles until the next two-year Congress opens in 2023. He called on Congress to get people involved. "This is something that is going to affect everybody,” he says.
Over the years, U.S. lawmakers haven’t been able agree on how to amend regulations to encompass self-driving cars.
In 2017, the House of Representatives passed legislation to spur on self-driving cars’ adoption and bar states from setting performance standards. The bill never passed the U.S. Senate.
But Latta and Dingle purport something must be done after U.S. traffic deaths jumped 10.5% in 2021 to 42,915, the highest number killed on American roads in a single year since 2005.They say autonomous vehicles could save thousands of lives and reduce traffic congestion.
Senators Gary Peters and John Thune are also working on autonomous vehicle legislation. Previously, the lawmakers proposed allowing NHTSA to initially exempt 15,000 self-driving vehicles per manufacturer from current federal motor vehicle safety standards and increasing that figure to 80,000 within three years.