A new piece of legislation being drafted by House Republicans could squash the stranglehold that states currently have on autonomous vehicles. Federal regulators from demanding pre-market approval for self-driving vehicle technology and bars states from governing the design and testing of self-driving cars, according to Reuters.
If passed, which is a far in the future possibility, this would be a major triumph for self-driving automakers such as Tesla, General Motors and Alphabet’s Waymo. States such as California and New York are considering limiting the deployment of self-driving vehicles, something that this draft would stop..
The legislation is a 45-page draft package that includes 14 bills. A cornerstone of the package is that the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would be the head agency regulating autonomous vehicles, removing that duty from the state and local levels.
If passed, states would still set insurance and registration rules, but those could not be used to regulate autonomous vehicle technologies.
One of the bills in the massive proposal would allow the Department of Transportation to exempt up to 100,000 vehicles annually from federal vehicle safety rules, which currently prevent selling self-driving vehicles that do not have pedals, steering wheels, and other traditional human controls.
U.S. Representative Bob Latta said Republicans want “to continue working with all parties in a bipartisan manner as we refine language and move toward a consensus package.” Latta, who chairs a panel overseeing automobile regulation, called the package “An important step in establishing a framework to allow innovators to develop and test autonomous vehicles safely.”
This is in line with recent Republican rhetoric on the issue of autonomous vehicles, with Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao saying, “We don’t want rules that impede future technological advances.”
This message of progression has been echoed by industry members as well.
Mitch Bainwol, head of the auto trade group Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, told Congress on Wednesday it should eliminate state and local laws that could “unduly burden or restrict the use of self-driving vehicles in the future.”