This bill — known as the SELF DRIVE Act — would clarify the federal role in ensuring the safety of highly automated vehicles (HAVs, aka self-driving cars) and create a path for the safe testing, development, and deployment of HAVs. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would be responsible for regulating the safety of the design, construction, and performance of self-driving cars to avoid requirements that would prohibit or limit interstate commerce and travel.
The NHTSA would be required to develop a rule for HAV standards and establish safety assessment certifications for manufacturers. It would establish a federal advisory council on HAVs to ensure manufacturers and regulators understand the needs of populations traditionally underserved by public transportation as well as senior citizens and individuals with disabilities. NHTSA would also have expanded access to safety data for future updates and development of safety standards.
Manufacturers would be required to comply with cybersecurity plans and make manufacturers that fail to comply subject to civil penalties. Exemptions would be granted to manufacturers to existing regulations in order to develop features of HAVs that meet & exceed those standards and overall safety level of nonexempt vehicles. Up to 25,00 exempt vehicles could be manufactured in the first 12-month period; up 50,000 could be made in the second period; and 100,000 in each of the third and fourth periods. Exemption renewals couldn’t exceed 100,000 within a 12-month period.
NHTSA would also be required to develop a rule regarding a system to alert drivers about unattended passengers in the back seat of vehicles. This provision is identical to the HOT CARS Act.
States would continue to control vehicle registration, licensing, driving education and training, insurance, law enforcement, crash investigations, safety & emissions inspections, congestion management, and traffic laws & regulations.
The bill’s full title is the Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research in Vehicle Evolution Act.