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Senate’s driverless car bill does not include driverless trucks


On Thursday, the Senate released bipartisan legislation that details federal law concerning the driverless car industry.

The bill seeks to help the car industry speed up the development of autonomous driving by waiving traditional safety standards for up to 100,000 vehicles per manufactorer after 3 years, according to The Hill.

The bill was designed by Senators John Thune, a Republican who chairs the Commerce Committee, and Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat. The legislation is titled The American Vision for Safer Transportation Through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act.

“This legislation proposes common-sense changes in the law to keep pace with advances in self-driving technology,” Thune, chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said in a statement.

He added, “By playing a constructive role in the development of self-driving transportation systems, our government can help save lives, improve mobility for all Americans — including those with disabilities, and create new jobs by making us leaders in this important technology.”

The bill is set to be presented to the Commerce Committee on October 4th.

The Economic Times reported, “General Motors Co, Alphabet Inc, Ford Motor Co and others have lobbied for the legislation to speed deployment of self-driving cars without human controls by allowing federal regulators to approve their use if they deem them safe and barring states from blocking autonomous vehicles.”

“Self Drive Act” Passed In July

The bill does not in any way address autonomous truck driving. This is a major point of contention for lawmakers, more specifically in regard to the “Self Drive Act” passed earlier this month.

The “Self Drive Act” was unanimously approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in July. This act was designed to prevent the state from implementing certain laws governing self-driving technology before they even begin.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will be in charge of regulating the industry’s traffic safety standards. Self-driving cars are intended to lessen traffic accidents and improve road safety overall. The “Self Drive Act” allows for testing and deployment of self-driving cars.

Trucking Industry Concerns

The trucking industry, and truck drivers more specifically, are naturally wary of autonomous driving technology because of the possibility widespread loss of truck driving jobs could be catastrophic. Many drivers are also worried about highway safety.

Thune and other Republicans wanted the trucking industry to be included in this proposed bill; however, Peters and other Democrats wanted to focus more on four-wheelers.

Peters commented on the announced bill saying, “Chairman Thune and I have worked closely together for months to craft this bipartisan legislation, and today’s introduction is a momentous step toward ensuring that Michigan and the United States continue to lead the world in automotive innovation that keeps our country economically competitive.”

Under this legislation, the Department of Transportation would be responsible for setting safety standards. State and local authorities will continue to govern traffic safety, vehicle registration, and on the road law enforcement.

Peters added, “I look forward to our continued efforts to ensure the safe deployment and use of self-driving vehicles as the Commerce Committee consider this important legislation.”

Automakers and some technology companies hope to begin deploying driverless vehicles around 2020.


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