A year ago, the SELF DRIVE Act (H.R. 3388) passed through the Energy and Commerce Committee with a unanimous 54-0 vote, as a result of over 250 meetings dedicated to bipartisan bill-drafting. Shortly after exiting committee, the SELF DRIVE Act was passed by a voice vote on the House floor. Why then has it taken the Senate a year now to act on this crucial, potentially life-saving, legislation?

The bipartisan SELF DRIVE Act lays out a clear, federal regulatory framework to ensure safe testing and deployment of self-driving vehicles. Most notably, it gives the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the regulatory power to ensure the safety of the design, construction and performance of the vehicles. The SELF DRIVE Act also enhances protections for cybersecurity, privacy, and consumer education, which is especially important in today’s internet age. These are among a few of its many provisions centered around ensuring consumer safety and security.

The proliferation of self-driving vehicles is inevitable at this point, and the United States is unfortunately falling behind Europe and Asia when it comes to developing a comprehensive regulatory framework for its self-driving cars. As Digital Liberty has noted, it is too difficult and burdensome for industries to comply with 50 individual regulatory systems at a time. With that in mind, the Senate needs to move quickly to pass the SELF DRIVE Act, and send it to the President’s desk. This will allow for the continued limitless innovation of self-driving vehicles, while ensuring consumer safety is the top priority.

Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) confirms: “Our aim was to develop a regulatory structure that allows for industry to safely innovate with significant government oversight- as safety must be the chief priority.” Self-driving cars are projected to reduce traffic deaths by 90%, which will save 30,000 lives a year. Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chairman Bob Latta (R-OH) said it best: “We don’t have to accept a world where millions of accidents and thousands of fatalities on the roadway are a necessary evil of driving.”

See ATR’s letter to the Senate Commerce Committee for more information on our position.