Justin P. Schorr, Ph.D., Collision Reconstruction / Transportation Engineer ::::
Recently the United States House of Representatives passed H. R. 3388: “Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research In Vehicle Evolution Act” or the “SELF DRIVEAct”.
1. The purpose of the bill is to create a Federal Standard for Autonomous Vehicle development. The text of the bill reads: “The purpose of this Act is to memorialize the Federal role in ensuring the safety of highly automated vehicles as it relates to design, construction, and performance, by encouraging the testing and deployment of such vehicles.” In the short term, the bill, if signed into law, would amend the United States Code to allow the Federal Government to issue National Standards related to Autonomous Vehicles and the environment surrounding their development, testing and deployment.
For anyone following the regulatory developments surrounding the issue, this comes as no surprise given that nearly all related legislation has included the notion that discontinuity in state and local regulations would serve as physical, economical and developmental “road blocks” in realizing an autonomous driving environment.
2. Commercial vehicles are not included in the bill. One of the most important changes to this bill occurred prior to its passing as commercial vehicle regulation was negotiated out. Motivation for this negotiation centers around the fear that autonomous vehicles may render the truck driving profession obsolete.
3. The bill calls for the Secretary of Transportation to issue a variety of rules and reports in the next two years. Contained in this bill are timetables for the requirements of the Secretary of Transportation with regards to issuing specific policies mainly in terms of performance measures used to evaluate the “readiness” of autonomous technology to be deployed and tested in real-world driving scenarios.
4. The bill passed by verbal vote at the very start of the fall session of 2017. While bipartisan report is a promising sign, state and local level concerns were brushed aside for swift progress and the bill was passed through a light session of congress.
5. The bill will undoubtedly look vastly different when (and if) it makes it to the President’s desk. The senate is working on its own bill and the reconciliation process will certainly see the bill go through a number of dramatic changes and different iterations prior to finding its final form. Additionally, Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, issued policy guidance mere days after the bill was passed in its current form.
Justin P. Schorr, Ph.D. is a Collision Reconstruction / Transportation Engineer with DJS Associates and can be reached via email at experts@forensicDJS.com or via phone at 215-659-2010.