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The League, other bike groups, oppose move to speed self-driving legislation through Congress

Published July 18, 2018

WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — The League of American Bicyclists is among the safety and consumer advocacy groups that sent a letter to the U.S. Senate this week to oppose a maneuver that would speed self-driving vehicle legislation through Congress.

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The AV START Act, would create a national framework for regulating autonomous vehicles. Following the death of pedestrian struck by a self-driving vehicle in March, the League and other groups called for the legislation to be modified

The bill is now stalled in Congress, with few openings on the Senate's working calendar this session. Advocates for the bill say it should be passed quickly to avert a patchwork of state laws regulating the vehicles. Supporters have called for the bill to be attached to a reauthorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA bill is considered "must pass" legislation and if the AV START Act is attached it could pass the Senate by unanimous consent with no debate or amendments.

The letter sent Monday opposing the move was signed by the League's executive director, Bill Nesper, as well as the leaders of dozens of state and local bike and pedestrian advocacy groups. 

"It would be egregious to push the AV Start Act through by tacking it onto a must-pass bill. Doing so would circumvent the regular legislative process and cut it off from full debate, discussion, transparent consideration, and the offering of amendments. The artificial urgency to advance this bill is disconnected from the reality that AVs are still potentially decades away," the letter reads in part. 

"The FAA has rigorous protocols for ensuring the safety of automation in the air, and examples of the success of effective standards and oversight of automated systems fly over our heads every single day," the letter said. "Conversely, the AV START Act, in its current form, would shockingly allow potentially millions of vehicles on the market to be exempt from meeting existing safety standards."

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