Senate Committee Approves Self-Driving Vehicle Legislation Sans Truck Policy

The U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee unanimously approved self-driving vehicle legislation Oct. 4. The legislation passed without regulation for commercial trucks after Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) withdrew his amendment that would have modified S. 1885, the American Vision for Safer Transportation Through Advacement of Revolutionary Technologies Act, so that it would apply to commercial trucks.

Introduced by Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and John Thune (R-S.D.), S. 1885 is aimed at accelerating the testing and development of self-driving vehicles. Members of the Committee are divided, however, over whether separate standards should be required for highly-automated passenger vehicles and commercial trucks, and whether self-driving vehicles pose potential employment challenges for the trucking industry.

During a Sept. Committee hearing to explore automated vehicle technology for commercial trucks, including testing and deployment challenges as compared with highly-automated vehicles, Committee Chairman Thune argued for a single standard, while Senator Peters insisted that the Committee does not know enough about potential job displacement hazards to issue commercial truck standards under the same regulations as passenger vehicles.

During the Oct. 4 markup, both Senator Inhofe and Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) expressed concerns over having two sets of regulations for vehicles. Senator Young further indicated his concern for safety and appeared frustrated that commercial trucks were removed from the bill in an effort to assuage labor advocates, arguing that the technology will “elevate the status of these transportation jobs.”

The measure now heads to the Senate floor. The House passed its version earlier this year.

Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman's photo

Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman

Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman develops and executes communications strategies to advance NATSO’s public relations and advocacy goals. Tiffany also develops and oversees partnerships related to the NATSO Foundation’s public outreach initiatives. Tiffany lives in the D.C. metro area with her husband and their two sons.More
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