Groups urge Congress to consider auto safety, workforce concerns in AV legislation

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, chairman of the subcommittee, in opening remarks said that “the federal government needs to create standards to ensure the safe deployment of technologies that are available now and in the future.”

“Standards will create certainty that is needed to accelerate innovation,” the Illinois Democrat said.

Rep. Gus Bilirakis, ranking member of the subcommittee, said while self-driving vehicles are not sold on the market today, Congress must develop a framework path forward for safe testing and deployment.

“Driverless vehicles now are still in … the very early testing stages and still have a long way to go,” said Bilirakis, a Florida Republican. “However, by designing our own moonshot framework for AVs, we can set the industry on the path to a fully autonomous vehicle that is currently still many years away.”

Bilirakis also said he plans to introduce a bill later this week that identifies how to “most effectively communicate about the capabilities and limitations of advanced driver-assistance systems by examining how manufacturers advertise, disclose, label and name their vehicles’ driving systems.”

The congressman referred to names such as Tesla’s Autopilot as misleading to consumers.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Washington Republican, said the Energy and Commerce Committee must move bipartisan legislation to ensure the U.S. leads in AVs and related technologies.

“China is moving forward with ambitious plans to lead the development and deployment of AVs,” she said. “Their authoritarian regime is already providing a road map. We cannot trust the [Chinese Communist Party] to set the standards for this industry, and we certainly cannot trust them to protect intellectual property and individual rights.”

Other House lawmakers — including Rep. Debbie Dingell, a member of the subcommittee — have said they’re set on prioritizing an AV bill this year after earlier attempts to pass legislation stalled in the Senate.

“We have been working with all of the stakeholders very intentionally, and our goal is to make sure that the consumer is safe and, at the same time, that we continue to lead in innovation and technology in the world,” Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, told Automotive News on Monday. “So that’s why discussions with all the stakeholders have been going on for months, and we continue to work together.”

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