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T4America Statement on Senate Commerce AV START Markup

On Wednesday, October 4, the Senate Commerce Committee marked up and approved the American Vision for Safer Transportation Through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies (AV START) Act. Beth Osborne, senior policy advisor for T4America, offered this statement in response.

“We share the committee’s enthusiasm about the potential of automated vehicles (AVs) to reduce fatalities and improve access to necessities for all Americans. However, today’s committee markup is emblematic of what has been troubling about this entire process — it has all been too rushed and the process is too opaque.

“The committee is not listening to nor addressing the concerns expressed by city and state leaders who are ultimately responsible for the roads where these vehicles will operate. The preemption language in this bill challenges their ability to regulate their own roads and, without requirements to share any data on their operations, creates a climate of secrecy around AV testing or deployment. This approach is unlikely to win the public trust, which will be necessary to successfully bring these vehicles to market.

“Neither this bill nor its House counterpart is a product of methodical policymaking, gathering robust feedback from everyone involved, and forging a true bipartisan consensus. It’s more the product of an unfortunate lack of interest on a critical issue that could reshape our towns and cities.

“Local and state transportation leaders stand ready to address these problems before work on the bill is completed — or whenever the auto industry and Congress realize the confusion and problems this approach creates.”