Without regulation, self-driving cars could be a hazard

  • May 4, 2020
150 150 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
The Washington Post published the following joint Letter to the Editor on May 3, 2020:

Without regulation, self-driving cars could be a hazard


The April 19 Commuter article “Self-driving cars will exacerbate traffic jams if region fails to act, study says” underscored the necessity to regulate autonomous vehicles before they hit public streets — a position held by our organizations and a broad coalition of stakeholders. Autonomous vehicles should not be deployed until thoughtful policies prioritizing safety, equity, accessibility and sustainability are set to ensure the potential benefits promised by the autonomous-vehicle industry.

Without sufficient regulation, accountability and a commitment to protecting those inside and outside of a car, unproven autonomous vehicles could compromise safety, risk lives and cause a wave of negative consequences, including increased congestion and emissions and decreased public transit use. Proposals from Congress have largely perpetuated a hands-off approach to federal oversight while exerting a heavy hand to preempt state and local governments’ ability to protect road users. The public demands and deserves better.

Polling as recently as January shows widespread concern about autonomous vehicles and strong support for robust safeguards. Congress must direct regulators to issue minimum performance standards, address known and foreseeable issues, and collect safety and performance data. These actions will be key to promote autonomous vehicle safety, accessibility, equity and sustainability and minimize their negative impacts in the District and elsewhere.


Cathy Chase
President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety


Beth Osborne
Director, Transportation for America