Toyota, GM, Lyft, Volvo Ask Congress To Loosen Self-Driving Regulations

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Automotive regulations obviously play a key role in keeping motorists safe, but having different rules for autonomous vehicles in each state could hinder automakers’ abilities to further improve safety.

Executives from Toyota, General Motors, Volvo and Lyft went before a House subcommittee Tuesday, urging Congress to exempt automakers from certain state regulations, USA TODAY reports.

Among states which have implemented laws for self-driving cars, such as California and Michigan, automakers are subjected to varying degrees of regulation. The situation isn’t expected to change, either, as politicians from 20 states have proposed a total of 60 bills to police autonomous vehicles since the start of 2017.

Lyft’s Joseph Okpaku reportedly thinks this will restrict innovation, and GM vice president Michael Ableson said the solution is “to grant specific exemptions for highly automated vehicle development.”

Given that fully autonomous vehicles essentially are the only way to eliminate traffic fatalities, the members of both political parties on the subcommittee expressed support for the technology.

“Nobody wants to let unsafe technologies on the road, but we also don’t want to prevent vehicles that improve safety from reaching consumers easier,” Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., said, according to USA TODAY.

Dingell added the more than 35,000 traffic fatalities in the U.S. in 2015 would be considered a “public health epidemic” if it were any industry other than automotive.

Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., who has a son with “special needs,” noted autonomous driving could also have a significant impact on those who aren’t currently “consumers” of cars.

“The possibilities are so good here for people in the disability community,” Harper said, according to USA TODAY.

One concern among regulators reportedly is the self-driving technology is progressing so quickly, and it will be difficult to keep regulations up-to-date with industry advances.

If anything, we think the rate of advancement highlights the need for action to be taken quickly, instead of waiting to see where the technology is in five years.

Thumbnail photo via Waymo

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