Commerce Committee Approves Peters Legislation to Advance Development of Self-Driving Vehicles

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee today unanimously approved the American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies (AV START) Act introduced by Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), along with Senator John Thune (R-SD), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. The bipartisan legislation will help advance the testing and development of self-driving vehicles that have the potential to improve mobility, reduce accidents, save thousands of lives lost on American roads each year, and ensure that the United States remains at the forefront of advanced technologies and innovation. Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI) is an original cosponsor of the legislation.

“Self-driving vehicles will make transformative changes to improve mobility, reduce accidents and enhance safety for millions of travelers on our roads,” said Senator Peters. “Michigan is poised to lead the world in these emerging vehicle innovations that will create new jobs and help ensure our nation remains internationally competitive. I look forward to continuing to work with Chairman Thune to help pass this legislation through the Senate to advance these lifesaving and life-changing technologies and ensure that Michigan remains at the forefront of vehicle innovation.”

“Michigan has the workforce, the partnerships and innovative spirit to be the national and global leader in autonomous and connected vehicles,” said Senator Stabenow.  “I thank Senator Peters and the Senate Commerce Committee for passing this bipartisan legislation, which will help secure Michigan’s future in mobility.”

The AV START Act will take steps to modernize existing federal motor vehicle safety standards and rules, which were written before the development of self-driving vehicle technologies and have not been updated to address these rapidly developing technologies. The legislation will also strengthen cybersecurity protections for self-driving vehicles, improve mobility for Americans with disabilities, promote consumer education on the capabilities and limitations of self-driving vehicles.

Peters, who co-founded of the bipartisan Smart Transportation Caucus, has made the development and deployment of self-driving technologies a top priority in the U.S. Senate. As part of his effort to craft the AV START Act, Senator Peters held numerous meetings with national and Michigan stakeholders, including consumer safety advocates, automotive manufacturers and suppliers, and technology groups.

Last year, at Peters’ urging, the U.S. Department of Transportation opened a competition to designate national testing facilities for self-driving vehicle technologies. In January, DOT named ten facilities across the country, including the American Center for Mobility (ACM) in Ypsilanti as federally-designated proving grounds for the development of self-driving vehicles. In late 2015, a Peters provision to promote investments in vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology was signed into law.