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US House subcommittee advances autonomous driving legislation; NHTSA to drive regulations, state role diminished

The US House Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection, chaired by Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH), today held a markup to advance bipartisan self-driving legislation. This draft legislation passed out of the subcommittee by voice vote.

The legislation clarifies the federal and state roles for regulating highly automated vehicles (HAVs) to encourage the testing, development, and deployment of HAVs in the United States. Specifically, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will have an expanded role covering certification, standards, and rulemakings for highly automated vehicles (HAVs). The states, on the other hand, have a diminished role.

No State or political subdivision of a State may adopt, maintain, enforce, impose, or continue in effect any law, rule, regulation, duty, requirement, standard, or other provision having the force and effect of law related to the design, construction, mechanical systems, hardware and software systems, or communications systems of highly automated vehicles or automated driving system equipment unless such law, rule, regulation, duty, requirement, standard, or other provision having the force and effect of law is identical to a standard prescribed under this chapter.

… Nothing in this subsection may be construed to prohibit a State from prescribing a law or regulation regarding any registration, licensing, liability, driving education and training, insurance, safety inspections, or traffic law or regulation unless the law or regulation is an unreasonable restriction on the design, construction, mechanical systems, hardware and software systems, or communications systems of highly automated vehicles.

—Proposed legislation

The legislation requires the submission of safety assessment certifications by manufacturers of HAVs and requires NHTSA to publish a rulemaking and safety priority plan for HAVs.

The legislation also requires manufacturers to develop a written cybersecurity plan that includes vulnerability detection and response practices, identification of the individual responsible for the management of cybersecurity, a process for controlling access to automated driving systems, and employee training and management.

Expanded role for NHTSA. The legislation expands existing exemption authority for NHTSA to evaluate and approve exemptions from Federal motor vehicle safety standards only if there is no reduction in safety. The legislation expands the number of vehicles that may be granted an exemption and the duration of exemptions.

The legislation also expands the testing measures from the FAST Act (Public Law No: 114-94) to include additional entities who meet specific reporting and obligations. The legislation requires NHTSA to initiate a rulemaking on the terminology to use for consumer education efforts.

The legislation creates a Federal Advisory Committee within NHTSA with subcommittees: to examine mobility access for the disabled community; mobility access for senior citizens and populations underserved by traditional public transportation; cybersecurity; the sharing of relevant, situational testing information; labor and employment issues that may be affected by the deployment of HAVs; the impact of the development and deployment of HAVs on the environment; protection of consumer privacy and security of information collected by HAVs; and, cabin safety for HAV passengers.

The legislation also requires NHTSA to undertake a rulemaking requiring all new passenger motor vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight to be equipped with a system to alert the operator to check rear designated seating positions after the vehicle motor is deactivated by the operator.

This legislation also requires NHTSA to evaluate and initiate a rulemaking regarding safety standards or performance requirements for motor vehicle headlamps that would improve the performance of headlamps and improve overall safety.

Comments

HarveyD

Very appropriate to make this under Federal jurisdiction to avoid 50 different rules and regulations for ADVs.

Wish that Canada do the same and make our regulations similar to USA's so vehicles with ADV equipment can be used both sides of the border.

Paroway

HarveyD, when has it been otherwise?

GCrispin

Just a nuance. This should not cover watercraft, neighbourhood, off-road nor airborne vehicles. A good edit would have it cover only road vehicles already covered by NHTSB's existing balywick.

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