WASHINGTON -- Basic rules of the road are needed before lawmakers allow companies from Apple Inc. to Ford Motor Co. to dramatically expand testing of self-driving cars, safety and consumer advocates told lawmakers Tuesday.
Automakers should be required to certify the safety of driverless vehicles before they can be tested on roads, and Congress should allow fewer vehicles to be tested on the roads than proposed under legislation a panel of the House Energy and Commerce committee is considering, according to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
"We think that before automated vehicles are put on the roads, they should be required to go through a functional safety evaluation," Cathy Chase, vice president of governmental affairs for the Washington-based advocacy group, said in an interview. "We think that's a very basic precursor."
Chase said her group plans to submit written comments for the hearing Tuesday of the Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection subcommittee.
House lawmakers are debating the first federal legislation related to autonomous vehicles while counterparts in the Senate are working on their own measures to guide approval of those vehicles. Companies are racing to develop the technology that proponents say would make a major dent in the more than 30,000 annual U.S. highway fatalities.
The proposals under consideration by lawmakers have been largely praised by trade groups for automakers, which have called for the federal government to take the lead and regulate with a light touch.