Senate Self-Driving Vehicle Bill Risks Unintended Consequences, Lacks Safeguards

Statement by Josh Goldman, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Oct 5, 2017

WASHINGTON (October 5, 2017)—The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved a sweeping new bill yesterday that would expand automakers’ ability to produce and sell self-driving vehicles. While it’s important for Congress to address this issue, the bill in its present form is too broad and lacks appropriate scientific safeguards, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Josh Goldman, policy analyst with the Clean Vehicles program at UCS.

“Policymakers need to be proactive about advancing autonomous vehicles, but this bill is the wrong way to do it. In its current form, the bill has the potential for serious unintended consequences. It would allow safety standards to be set without scientific input or accountability, and let the Department of Transportation implement those standards without public notice or public comment. It’s a giveaway for the industry and doesn’t reflect the needs of drivers. And if we proceed carelessly with self-driving technology, it could have negative impacts on workers, communities, and the climate.

“Self-driving technology is coming, and it’s going to dramatically change the way transportation works. The decisions we make today will determine whether those changes are for the better. We need to proceed carefully to make sure autonomous vehicles make our communities safer, cleaner, and more equitable. This bill does not achieve those goals and should be amended.”