Senate releases driverless car bill, does not address trucking

Senate releases driverless car bill, does not address trucking
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The Senate released bipartisan legislation on Thursday that would provide the first overarching federal laws governing the driverless car industry.

The bill, authored by Sens. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneOvernight Tech: Senate panel subpoenaed ex-Yahoo chief | Twitter gives all users 280 characters | FBI can't access Texas shooter's phone | EU wants tax answers from Apple Overnight Cybersecurity: What we learned from Carter Page's House Intel testimony | House to mark up foreign intel reform law | FBI can't access Texas shooter's phone | Sessions to testify at hearing amid Russia scrutiny Former Yahoo CEO subpoenaed to appear before Congress MORE (R-S.D.) and Gary PetersGary Charles PetersGOP tax bill has transportation advocates scrambling GOP tax bill ends electric vehicle tax credit, overhauls other energy taxes Cities grapple with how to protect soft targets from new attacks MORE (D-Mich.), would seek to help the car industry speed up deployment of autonomous technology by waiving traditional safety standards for up to 100,000 vehicles per manufacturer after three years.

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“This legislation proposes common sense changes in law to keep pace with advances in self-driving technology,” Thune, chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said in a statement.

“By playing a constructive role in the development of self-driving transportation systems, our government can help save lives, improve mobility for all Americans — including those with disabilities, and create new jobs by making us leaders in this important technology," he said.

The bill will come before the Commerce Committee for a markup on Oct. 4.

The bill does not address self-driving trucks, a major point of contention for lawmakers that was also left out of a similar House bill passed earlier this month.

Trucking unions were concerned about the effect that disrupting the status quo would have on employment while industry groups argued that cars and trucks should be covered by the same framework.

Thune and other Republicans had pushed to include trucking in the Senate bill, while Peters and Democrats wanted to maintain the status quo.

The legislation is titled The American Vision for Safer Transportation Through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act.

“Chairman Thune and I have worked closely together for months to craft this bipartisan legislation, and today’s introduction is a momentous step toward ensuring that Michigan and the United States continue to lead the world in automotive innovation that keeps our country economically competitive," Peters said in a statement.

Under the legislation, the Department of Transportation would have the authority over setting safety standards for the industry, pre-empting a patchwork of varying state laws.

State and local authorities will continue to govern traffic safety, vehicle registration and law enforcement issues.

The bill would also require the Department of Transportation to work with manufacturers to set cybersecurity standards.

"I look forward to our continued efforts to ensure the safe deployment and use of self-driving vehicles as the Commerce Committee considers this important legislation,” Peters said.