Washington, D.C.—In connection with a hearing of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce on autonomous vehicle (AV) technologies, Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) submitted a letter for the hearing record which calls for the establishment of a federal AV framework as a priority for America’s energy security, economy, and society.
In a letter submitted for the Subcommittee’s hearing, “Autonomous Vehicles: Promises and Challenges of Evolving Automotive Technologies,” 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, while also delivering many other public benefits including increased traffic safety and accessibility.”
In addition, the letter urged the Committee to prioritize three key goals in any AV legislation:
- Accelerate progress toward regulatory standards that assure the safe testing and deployment of AVs and eliminate barriers to innovative AV designs by streamlining the exemption process and updating FMVSS.
- 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.
The letter notes that research commissioned by SAFE found that the economic and societal benefits of AVs could total almost $800 billion per year by 2050 through accident reduction, lower oil consumption, improvements in congestion and greater access to retail and jobs, Diamond added, “we encourage the implementation of policies that will support the safe and expeditious deployment of AVs and maximize their tremendous potential benefits.”
The letter also states that the need for federal AV legislation “remains as urgent as ever,” as 36,560 people died in traffic collisions in 2018. 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.