WASHINGTON (July 26, 2023) – Consumer Technology Association (CTA) president and CEO Gary Shapiro today sounded an alarm to Congress about U.S. traffic fatalities and competition with China, telling a U.S. House subcommittee that “self-driving vehicles are the solution,” but federal legislation to support development and testing is key and long-overdue
Shapiro delivered his message in testimony before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce. Shapiro last testified on the issue of self-driving vehicles (SDVs) in February 2020. In comments to the subcommittee, he today expressed concern about the lack of progress in Washington over the past three-and-a-half years.
“To lead in the self-driving industry, government must remain engaged to help American companies compete globally,” Shapiro testified. “In this case, the solution is simple: passing legislation that unanimously passed the House of Representatives in 2017. Sadly, that legislation stalled in the Senate because of lobbying efforts and broken promises on the House compromise by those who make billions annually from avoidable death and injury on American roads. To keep America in the game and accelerate development and scaling in the U.S. rather than abroad, Congress must pass and the President must sign legislation creating a federal SDV framework for development and deployment.”
Pointing out that the U.S. has fallen behind many other nations, including China, in developing a legal framework governing the rollout of SDVs, Shapiro also highlighted the public safety benefits of SDVs:
Last year, 43,000 people in America lost their lives in automobile crashes, with 94% of crashes caused by human error.
SDVs are designed not to speed, which is a contributing factor in more than 11,000 deaths and more than 300,000 injuries on U.S. roads each year.
By avoiding traffic violations and distracted or impaired driving, self-driving technology has the potential to significantly reduce roadway fatalities and save thousands of lives a year.
In his testimony, Shapiro outlined several recommendations for how Washington can pave the way for a safer future made possible by self-driving vehicles:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) should update outdated safety standards for a world of SDVs;
Any bill should ensure the federal government remains solely responsible for regulating vehicle safety and performance standards – avoiding a patchwork of conflicting state laws;
Legislation should expand NHTSA’s exemption authority, which will help gather data to improve safety and performance preserve agency oversight;
“By embracing self-driving vehicles, Congress can strengthen American technological leadership and ensure a safer and more inclusive transportation system,” Shapiro concluded. “We look forward to working with Congress to advance legislation enabling the development and use of vehicles that will make our roads safer.”