October 23, 2018
Proposed autonomous vehicle testing legislation will allow more AVs on the street but it may not set strict enough standards to keep pedestrians and bicyclists safe, according to the League of American Bicyclists.
The AV START Act was introduced to Congress in 2017 to support the development of highly automated vehicle safety technologies, specifically outlining standards for AV testing. However, pedestrian and bicycle advocacy organizations do not believe the bill currently sets strict enough standards to keep peds/bikes safe in the streets.
The bill as it currently stands is opposed by the League of American Bicyclists due to the following:
It will drastically increase the number of vehicles on our streets which are exempted from federal safety standards. Currently each manufacturer of autonomous vehicles is allowed 2500 exemptions. The AV START Act will allow each manufacturer to sell 80,000 vehicles by year three. (There were 19 manufacturers testing cars in California last year.) The bill will allow manufacturers to disconnect steering wheels, brakes and other safety systems in autonomous mode without any government review and approval.
The bill does not include a ‘vision test’ to prove these self -driving cars can both detect and respond to bicyclists and pedestrians. The bill does require manufacturers to test the vehicles, but does not say what that test entails, and allows the manufacturers to judge what results ‘pass’ their safety tests. The bill does require manufacturers to send a report of their testing to the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA). However, those safety reports CANNOT be used to deny an exemption from safety regulations.
Congress plans to vote on the bill after the mid-term elections.
For a full overview of the AV START Act, go here.
Read the Leagues of American Bicyclists' full letter here outlining their contention with the bill as it currently stands. This letter is supported by Adventure Cycling Association, America Walks, Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, League of American Bicyclists, People for Bikes, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, and GObike Buffalo.
To add your organization to the opposition letter, complete this survey.