WASHINGTON -- A group representing self-driving car companies is appointing a former U.S. Senate aide as its new head as the industry works to convince U.S. policymakers to speed the deployment of autonomous vehicles and jumpstart stalled legislation.
The Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association (AVIA) has tapped Jeff Farrah as its first executive director, the group told Reuters.
U.S. lawmakers have been divided for years over how to amend current auto safety regulations to encompass self-driving cars, including the scope of consumer and legal protections.
In 2017, the House of Representatives passed legislation to speed the adoption of self-driving cars and bar states from setting performance standards, but the bill never passed the U.S. Senate.
U.S. traffic deaths jumped 10.5 percent in 2021 to 42,915, marking the highest number killed on American roads in a single-year since 2005.
In an interview, Farrah said it was critical to advance policies to support autonomous vehicles, citing the huge increase in U.S. traffic deaths and wide benefits of self-driving cars to help boost mobility, reduce stress on U.S. supply chains as well as cut vehicle emissions.
"We don't want people to ultimately become desensitized to this," Farrah said. "It doesn't have to be this way at all. This is something where technology should be doing more."