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Capitol Correspondence - 03.04.19

ANCOR and Broad Coalition Ask Congress to Rev Up on Self-Driving Vehicles

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As part of its work with the Coalition for Future Mobility (CFM), ANCOR joined a coalition letter asking Congress to re-introduce legislation creating a national regulatory framework for self-driving vehicles and which includes provisions to ensure the vehicles’ accessibility for people with disabilities. The goal of this bill is to make it easier to test and manufacture self-driving vehicles by giving manufacturers one set of federal rules to follow rather than a patchwork of state regulations. ANCOR supported the AV Start Act in the 115th Congress, which CFM advocated for, because of the technology’s potential to support the independence of people with intellectual / developmental disabilities. Because the bill did not receive a vote in the 115th Congress, Congress has to resume the process of introducing the bill, having it go through committee votes, and then voting for it in both the Senate and House for it to become law.

As written in the letter:

“While safety is a critical component in the drive for the development of AVs, these vehicles can also provide life-changing opportunities for those who are not adequately served by current mobility options, such as seniors, persons with disabilities, and those who require more affordable transportation. Further, the benefits of these vehicles extend to other roadway users. Large-scale AV implementation could also mean less congestion and greater efficiency on our roads.

Last Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate recognized the importance of providing a federal framework for AVs. The House of Representatives passed the bipartisan SELF DRIVE Act (H.R. 3388) without a vote in opposition. Shortly after the House acted, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation unanimously passed similar legislation. In spite of strong, bipartisan support, legislation was unable to receive floor consideration in the Senate. Our coalition encourages you and your colleagues to redouble your efforts to move forward with legislation that will help improve safety, provide a tech-neutral path forward for private industry to innovate, and ensure clarity for regulators at all levels of government.”

ANCOR members interested in learning more about this issue in general might be interested in this Axios article on AV companies’ improvements on designing accessible self-driving vehicles, and in this AAPD report on the unmet transportation challenges faced by Americans with disabilities.