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Congress Plays Catch-Up With Self-Driving Cars: Millions of Jobs Will Vanish, What Jobs New Jobs Will Surface?

Courtesy of Mish.

As the push for self-driving cars nears fruition, Congress has a bit of work to do.

A national solution is the key, not a hodge-podge of state regulations with states saying and doing a number of different things.

A House bill dubbed the Highly Automated Vehicle Testing and Deployment Act of 2017, is now in the works. It will give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration broad oversight of the self-driving car industry.

The New York Times reports As Self-Driving Cars Near, Washington Plays Catch-Up

On Wednesday, a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee voted to advance a bill that would speed up the development of self-driving cars and establish a federal framework for their regulation. The bill, known as the Highly Automated Vehicle Testing and Deployment Act of 2017, is the first major federal effort to regulate autonomous vehicles, and would give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration broad oversight of the self-driving car industry. A full committee vote on the measure is expected next week, and the bill could go before the entire House this fall.

The Senate is also playing catch-up. Last month, a bipartisan group of senators announced that it was working toward its own version of an autonomous vehicle bill, which would prioritize “safety, fixing outdated rules, and clarifying the role of federal and state governments” in regulating self-driving cars.

Self-driving cars have been praised by members of both parties, who see the technology as a way to spur job creation while preventing many of the roughly 40,000 motor vehicle deaths that occur on American roads each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 94 percent of traffic deaths involve human error, including distracted driving and driving while intoxicated.

Self-driving cars would obviate those problems, even if they would introduce new fears. (One well-publicized accident, a fatal 2016 crash involving a Tesla that was set to “autopilot” mode by its owner, sparked worries among regulators, who later concluded that Tesla’s driver-assistance system was not to blame for the accident.)

“These vehicles are going to be developed, and I want to make sure we’re developing them in this country, not China, India or the European Union,” said Ms. Dingell, a former auto lobbyist and General Motors executive whose district includes the headquarters of Ford Motor Company. “The challenge for this country, period, is how we stay at the forefront of innovation and technology.”

In the absence of federal guidance, many states have started developing their own laws for self-driving cars. California’s Department of Motor Vehicles recently released a series of proposed rules, and the state is beginning to modify its roads to make them easier for the sensors in autonomous vehicles to analyze. Michigan passed a package of bills last year that made it easier for auto manufacturers to experiment with self-driving cars on public roads. And Florida passed a law that legalized truly self-driving cars, with no human operator behind the wheel.

Right now, the benefits of self-driving cars are clear and concrete — fewer traffic deaths, easier commutes, the ability to safely use your phone while you drive — while the costs remain largely theoretical. But experts have warned that the self-driving car revolution could usher in sweeping economic changes, including the displacement of millions of workers. Roughly 1.7 million Americans drive long-haul trucks for a living, and another 1.7 million people drive taxis, buses and other commercial vehicles. When autonomous vehicles render many of those jobs obsolete, politicians will have a much bigger set of problems to contend with.

Florida Takes the Lead

On April 4, 2016, in a unanimous 118-0 vote, Florida passed the nation’s first legislation to legalize fully autonomous vehicles on public roads without a driver behind the wheel.

With no snow to contend with and an aging population that undoubtedly has night vision problems, Florida is a logical place to try, but other states will follow.


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