Advocates’ Statement on AV START Act Senate Commerce Commiteee Markup Victories

  • October 6, 2017
150 150 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety


October 4, 2017

Contact: Eric Naing 202-408-1711, cell: 217-493-8294,

Statement by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

On the Senate Committee Passage of S. 1885, Autonomous Vehicles Legislation

Critical Safety and Consumer Improvements Adopted with Bi-partisan Support

Today, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee voted to advance the American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act (AV START Act, S. 1885), a bill that will establish policies and procedures for introducing autonomous vehicles (AVs) into the marketplace for decades to come.  Critical safety and consumer protection provisions championed by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) were added to the legislation during today’s Committee mark-up.

Advocates thanks Chairman John Thune (R-SD), Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-FL) and the lead Democrat sponsor Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) for their efforts to include several critical amendments that will advance safety and ensure consumer confidence in the technology as it is deployed.  Several Committee Members including Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tom Udall (D-NM) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) offered amendments supported by Advocates which were adopted that added new provisions or modified others in the bill.

Some of the significant improvements include: a reduction in the number of exemptions from existing motor vehicle safety standards for auto manufacturers; a requirement for the U.S. Department of Transportation to review and evaluate the safety performance of vehicles with exemptions before allowing even larger numbers on the road; making the safety evaluation reports submitted by all AV manufacturers mandatory and available for public review; requiring a federal rule for consumer information on the capabilities and limitations of the AV at the point of sale for consumers; cybersecurity safeguards; and, a requirement that cars have alert systems to prevent children from unintentionally being left behind and dying of heatstroke.

Joan Claybrook, former Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Consumer Co-chair of Advocates responded to today’s Committee action on the AV START Act. “The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has a long history of Members coming together and working in a bipartisan way to advance important highway and auto safety protections.  Today is an excellent example of why that model still works and is an effective approach to reducing deaths and injuries on our streets and roads.”

Jackie Gillan, President of Advocates stated, “Advocates believes that driverless cars have the potential to one day make meaningful and lasting reductions in the death and injury toll on our streets and highways. As we work toward that goal, it is critical for Congress to ensure that these vehicles are deployed in a safe, sensible, and transparent manner. The amendments advanced today include some much needed improvements.  Nothing added to the bill will encumber the deployment of AVs, but will encourage safe development and introduction of driverless cars.”

“Today’s action and the adoption of several pro-safety and pro-consumer changes to S. 1885 are a welcomed development for Advocates and other consumer and safety groups with whom we have worked to improve the legislation. Protecting public safety should be the top priority and not protecting industry investments in this new technology.  We are pleased that the bill now moving to the full Senate will not only be known as the AV START Act but it is also an AV SAFETY Act,” stated Cathy Chase, Vice President of Governmental Affairs of Advocates