Wheels Are Turning on Federal Self-Driving Policy

One year ago, the federal government test drove its first set of self-driving policies with a four-part announcement from the U.S. Department of Transportation. In twelve months, much has changed, but the wheels are still turning.

The U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month passed the bipartisan Safely Ensuring Lives Future Development and Research in Vehicle Evolution (SELF DRIVE) Act. The SELF DRIVE Act continues the work of clarifying state and federal government roles as well as the federal government’s responsibilities with regard to safety, cybersecurity, privacy, and consumer education.

Although SELF DRIVE has now launched, the engine is still heating up: The U.S. Senate is still developing its approach to federal policy in this space. Last week, the U.S. Senate held a hearing to this end, inviting experts on self-driving trucks to testify before its Commerce Committee. This latest action built on a set of bipartisan “principles” for legislation that the U.S. Senate had released in June.

The Executive Branch has also announced a change to its approach. Specifically, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Chao unveiled “A Vision for Safety: 2.0” in Michigan last week. As Secretary Chao noted, this “replaces the Federal Automated Vehicle Policy Version 1.0” released last year, but it is not the Department’s final word: “DOT and NHTSA are already planning for Version 3.0 in 2018!”

In short, for federal self-driving policy, the wheels are still turning – and the regulatory landscape will most certainly continue to evolve over the coming weeks and months.