Skip to content

Peters Helps Secure and Advance Important Provisions for Auto Safety and Innovation in Senate Transportation Appropriations Bill

Bill Includes Safety Measures and Provisions to Create a Pathway for a Regulatory Framework for Safe Development and Deployment of Autonomous Vehicles Championed by Peters

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) secured a number of important provisions for auto safety and innovation in the Fiscal Year 2024 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Act, which passed through the Senate Appropriations Committee today. The provisions would help improve automobile safety and create a pathway to a regulatory framework for the development of autonomous vehicle (AV) technology in the United States. The measures would also provide important resources for the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, which is the federal agency charged with transportation safety. The bill now advances to the full Senate.

“It’s critical we take steps that allow manufacturers to develop future technologies that support American jobs, improve safety and reduce injuries and fatalities on our roads,” said Senator Peters, who serves on the Appropriations Committee and is Chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, Maritime, Freight, and Ports. “For American manufacturers to stay competitive with foreign competitors like China, we need to enable our automakers to develop, test, and safely deploy AV technology in Michigan and the United States – and these provisions would create a pathway to a regulatory framework to help make that happen. As we continue to work on funding the government, I’ll keeping advocating to advance efforts that prioritize innovation, safety, our economy and national security.”

The measures led and supported by Peters to help advance auto safety and innovation include:

  • Requiring NHTSA to finalize an AV roadmap within six months: Includes report language urging NHTSA to move quickly on an expected proposed rulemaking to develop a regulatory framework and safety demonstration program for AVs in order to advance self-driving technology development and deployment in the United States in a safe and transparent manner while informing the agency’s approach to future rulemaking and oversight.
  • Supporting NHTSA Progress on AV Regulation: Includes report language supporting NHTSA efforts to modernize and improve their capacity for rulemakings, regulations, and research related to AVs, including modernizing federal motor vehicle safety standards to reflect the future of mobility.
  • Funding for the Office of Automation Safety at NHTSA: Includes $17 million for NHTSA’s Office of Automation Safety to hire 10 full-time employees, which would help to accelerate the safe deployment of AVs and other advanced driver assistance systems by having dedicated staff to develop and set safety standards.
  • Funding for NHTSA’s Operations and Research: Secured $423 million – an increase over FY2023 – in funding for NHTSA to ensure the agency has the resources they need to deliver on rulemaking, enforcement, research, and development. With historic increases in roadway fatalities since 2020, fully resourcing this critical safety agency is essential to reversing this trend and unlocking the future of mobility.
  • Urging NHTSA to expand traffic safety research program to include AVs: Includes report language supporting continued funding for the public-private Partnership for Analytics Research in Traffic Safety (PARTS) program and urging NHTSA to expand data collection in the program to more leading-edge technologies, including AVs. Auto companies voluntarily participate in the PARTS program to share safety data and to collaborate on safety analysis. Currently more that 47 million modern U.S. vehicles are involved, representing more than 90 vehicle models from the 2015-2021 model years. Expanding this program to include AVs would help provide valuable safety information as AV technology is developed and deployed.
  • Increasing NHTSA Capacity to Test and Evaluate Modern Safety Technology, Including AVs: Secures $3.5 million for NHTSA to modernize its current safety testing infrastructure and help the agency develop a regulatory framework for the safe integration of AVs. NHTSA’s current testing infrastructure prioritizes test-track and on-road testing, which are necessary for deployment, however expertise in virtual testing is needed at the agency to evaluate data collected through advanced modeling and simulation.
  • Encouraging NHTSA to increase awareness and completion of vehicle recalls: Includes report language directing NHTSA to create partnerships with public, private, and non-profit partners to increase recall awareness and completion rates – and to reduce the number of vehicles with unrepaired recalls, which today is estimated to be approximately 50 million. This would help make our roadways safer by removing vehicles that have safety-related defects.
  • Holding NHTSA Accountable on Congressionally-mandated rules: Includes report language pushing NHTSA to move more quickly to complete Congressionally-mandated rulemakings and to provide quarterly briefings to the Committee on the status of these rulemakings, which would improve safety by ensuring the agency is responsive to Congressional oversight.
  • Pushing NHTSA to make progress on C-V2X technology: Includes report language urging NHTSA to make progress on Cellular Vehicle to Everything (C-V2X) technology, which Peters has advocated for. In April, the FCC announced they will approve deployment of these lifesaving technologies after Peters led a bipartisan letter in February urging them to do so. He also helped secure over $9.8 million through the bipartisan infrastructure law for the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) to deploy this technology in Ann Arbor – which is paving the way for Michigan to be at the forefront of the development and deployment of this technology.

Ensuring there is a federal framework to safely develop, test and deploy advanced AVs has been a priority for Peters during his time in the Senate. An estimated 40,000 people die in car accidents each year – but with an appropriate regulatory framework, autonomous vehicles have the potential to help reduce deaths and injuries from crashes, especially since they are not susceptible to one of the biggest safety risks on the road: impaired driving. AVs are also critical for American jobs and economic competitiveness. The Chinese government has made extensive investments in autonomous vehicle technology and committed to a regulatory environment to try to win the AVs race including testing, deployment, and manufacturing. The Chinese government released an AV roadmap indicating that by 2030 they aim to have 70% of new cars to be equipped with partial or full autonomous driving capability.

In June, Peters spoke at an Axios event about the future of AV technology. Last year, he led a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on the need to develop a comprehensive framework for AVs to create jobs, save lives, improve mobility, and boost our economic competitiveness. During a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing earlier this year, Peters stressed to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo the importance of making strategic economic investments, including in AVs, to counter the Chinese government.

Last Congress, Peters secured a provision in the CHIPS and Science Act to create a $2 billion incentive fund to support the domestic production of mature semiconductor technologies used by the auto industry. He also held a hearing to assess how automotive innovation in the U.S. will influence the future of vehicle safety, mobility, and technology in a global economy and held a field hearing in Detroit in which experts examined how Congress can unlock innovation for electric and autonomous vehicles by increasing domestic production of semiconductor chips. Peters has also previously introduced comprehensive AV legislation that passed through the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.