In a letter sent to the Senate, consumer groups, including CFA conveyed their strong opposition to the AV START Act (S. 1885). While believing that autonomous vehicles will one day lead to safer, more accessible and cleaner transportation, Congress should not rush forward with unproven technologies that put automakers’ interests ahead of public safety. In order to effectively, and safely roll out autonomous vehicles, the bill should be changed to:
- Limit the size and scope of exemptions for vehicles that can be sold without meeting crucial federal government safety standards. The AV START Act would allow for potentially millions of exempt vehicles to be sold, not just used for testing.
- Direct the United States Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) to issue minimum standards for driverless cars, including securing driverless systems from hacking, as well as establishing performance requirements for what the vehicle can “see,” electronics systems, and the handoff between computer and human driver. Also, in the absence of federal regulation, states should not be preempted from protecting their citizens.
- Provide the public, NHTSA, and NTSB with adequate information and data as to the limitations, capabilities, and real-world performance of driverless cars.
- Maintain current law, which prohibits manufacturers from turning off vehicle safety systems at their sole discretion.
- Address the serious safety shortcomings of partially automated, SAE Level 2 vehicles.
- Assure that driverless cars will be safe and accessible to traditionally underserved communities, including people with disabilities.
- Ensure NHTSA has sufficient resources and the authorities it needs to effectively oversee driverless cars as they are deployed on a large scale.