Washington, D.C.—In connection with a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on the development of safety technology for autonomous vehicles (AVs), Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) submitted a letter for the hearing record which calls for the establishment of a federal AV framework as an economic and national security priority.
In the letter, submitted as part of the Committee’s hearing, “Highly Automated Vehicles: Federal Perspectives on the Deployment of Safety Technology,” SAFE President and CEO Robbie Diamond stated that AV technology “presents a significant opportunity to accelerate the market-based adoption of electric vehicles and reduce oil consumption,” in addition to public benefits including improved road safety, reduced traffic congestion and increased accessibility to transport options.
In the letter, Diamond also urges the Committee to prioritize the following three goals in drafting AV legislation:
Accelerate progress towards regulatory standards that assure the safety of AVs and eliminate barriers to innovative AV designs.
Establish an interim, federal regulatory framework that can improve the governance of AVs until a long‐term framework is put in place; this interim framework is critical, as it would govern AVs as they ramp up commercial operation.
Advance the societal benefits of AVs to increase transportation access for people with disabilities, wounded veterans, and disadvantaged communities.
Diamond added that “federal policy has struggled to keep pace with the rapid development of AV technology,” as the existing standards were written solely with human drivers in mind, creating unforeseen barriers to AV deployment as a result.
The letter also notes that the need for federal AV legislation remains urgent, as at least 40,000 people died in traffic collisions in 2018 for the third straight year. Furthermore, six million Americans with a disability have difficulty accessing the transportation they need and traffic congestion causes Americans to waste 3.3 billion gallons of fuel every year.
About Securing America’s Future Energy
Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) is an action-oriented, nonpartisan organization that aims to reduce America’s dependence on oil. Near-total dependence on petroleum in the transportation sector undermines the nation’s economic and national security, and constrains U.S. foreign policy. To combat these threats, SAFE advocates for expanded domestic production of U.S. oil and gas resources, continued improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency, and transportation sector innovations including electric vehicles, natural gas trucks, and autonomous vehicles. In 2006, SAFE joined with General P.X. Kelley (Ret.), 28th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, and Frederick W. Smith, Chairman, President, and CEO of FedEx Corporation, to form the Energy Security Leadership Council (ESLC), a group of business and former military leaders committed to reducing the United States’ dependence on oil. Today, the ESLC is co-chaired by Frederick W. Smith and General James T. Conway (Ret), 34th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.