Executives from groups that represent consumers and unionized workers on Tuesday pressed members of Congress to prioritize vehicle safety and workers' needs in any effort to develop a federal framework for autonomous vehicles and other forward-looking technologies.
A U.S. House subcommittee heard testimony from the Center for Auto Safety and the AFL-CIO, which urged taking a cautious approach to issues such as AV testing and deployment and other transportation technologies such as advanced driver-assistance systems.
Jason Levine, the center's executive director, said that "a clear vision for how to safely introduce automated driving in a way that will provide benefits to all involved, not just shareholders" is necessary, according to his prepared testimony to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce.
"As Congress undertakes the vital task of writing our nation's first autonomous vehicle law, we urge this subcommittee to keep in mind the need to protect consumers in order to successfully move the needle forward for AV safety and deployment in the decades ahead," Levine said.
Specifically, the consumer advocacy group recommends a four-pronged approach to existing and future vehicle technologies. That approach includes mandatory performance standards for advanced driver-assist systems, data collection, operational safety standards that can be verified by a third party as well as cybersecurity standards, updated occupant protection standards and other standards to protect pedestrians and other vulnerable road users.
"Following a voluntary standard model for AVs is a fool's errand," Levine said in his testimony. "Industry voluntary standards — created for commercial purposes — can be a nice benchmark but can also be easily ignored or subverted at any time by any participant."