SELF-DRIVE Act Could Become Framework for Self-Driving Car Laws

SELF-DRIVE Act Could Become Framework for Self-Driving Car Laws

Self-Drive Act


In a recent U.S. House of Representatives floor session, House Representatives passed the SELF-DRIVE Act (Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research In-Vehicle Evolution) by a 2/3 majority. If ratified, the bill could become the framework for federal regulations and laws governing autonomous vehicles.

"This bipartisan bill paves the way for advanced collision avoidance systems and self-driving cars nationwide, and ensures that America stays a global leader in innovation," said House Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) in a joint statement. Walden is the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the congressional committee that approved the bill for floor debate in July.

The SELF-DRIVE Act is now off to the Senate floor, where the second congressional branch will draft their own form of the bill. SELF-DRIVE Act sponsors hope to negotiate the bills and sign them into law soon. If ratified, SELF-DRIVE will be the first major step by the federal government to regulate self-driving cars on U.S. roadways. Federal oversight seems to be welcomed by the usually anti-regulatory auto-industry, who is dabbling in the completely unchartered territory of autonomous vehicles.

Until now, states have held comprehensive regulatory duties over self-driving cars, making it difficult for the auto industrial-technological complex to circumnavigate the 21+ differentiating states' laws, purposes, and definitions that have been used to govern the engineering and design of autonomous vehicles. The SELF-DRIVE Act would pre-empt states from implementing certain laws governing autonomous vehicle technology. Under the bill, states will still regulate vehicle registration, driver education, insurance, law enforcement, and local issues. While the federal government will dictate other aspects of autonomous vehicles, such as traffic safety standards.

But the extent of federal power over autonomous vehicle engineering is in contention. On the House floor, lobbyists from the auto-industry argued that manufacturers need flexibility in the design process. While autonomous vehicles are still in the early stages of design for mass-use purposes, manufacturers want time and federal complaisance to explore different designs before strict safety regulations bog them down. With the introduction of autonomous vehicles on a mass-scale, Congress and automotive manufacturers hope to drastically reduce the number of fatal auto accidents. The National Highway Traffic Administration – the agency that is tasked with regulating autonomous vehicle safety standards – estimates that 94% of fatal accidents can be attributed to human error.

In 2016 alone, there were nearly 40,000 fatal car accidents. With the proper safety protocols and regulations, self-driving cars could save thousands of lives every year. Optimistic estimations, which predict a steep downtick in annual fatal accidents, have led lawmakers to push the bill through the legislative process with haste. The Senate is expected to release its autonomous vehicle regulatory bill soon.

The Senate plans to address issues that the House did not, including self-driving trucks and how they could affect the commercial trucking industry. Until both congressional bodies have come to an agreement on an autonomous vehicle bill, the future of self-driving cars is very much in the air. But lawmakers and industry representatives both seem to be optimistic about the prospect that future U.S. roadways will be dominated by safe autonomous vehicles.

Neidig, Harper. “House Passes Bill Paving the Way for Driverless Cars.” TheHill, 6 Sept. 2017,



Tom Lewis

TorHoerman Law was responsible for handling a medical case for our family. I was extremely impressed with their professionalism and ability to react quickly. They also did a nice job keeping us updated with the case throughout the process. This was the first time experiencing a situation like this and Tor Hoerman law did an excellent job from start to finish.

Jordan Terry

TorHoerman Law is an extraordinary law firm – a firm that truly makes the client’s best interests the primary concern. Their team of personal injury lawyers are experienced, personable, and well versed in a range of litigation areas. They are supported by a dedicated team of staff that are as equally friendly and helpful. I would recommend TorHoerman Law for any personal injury litigation needs.

Dave Woodley

All of my questions were answered quickly and in a way I could understand. Steve and the entire staff were friendly and professional.

Jordan Butler

I highly recommend this law firm! The attorneys and staff at THL worked hard, communicated every step of the process, kept me well informed at all times, and exceeded all expectations! The staff is kind, considerate, professional, and very experienced. Look no further, call now!

Maddy Moeller

Top-notch, hardworking attorneys!

Karen Hersman

A wonderful and professional legal team. They helped me when I needed expert legal representation! Thank you TorHoerman Law!

Angel Truesdale

They contacted me the next day. Very nice people!

Paul Graegin

The firm went above and beyond. Thank you for everything.

Carie Terry

The attorneys at THL were extremely helpful with the legal aspects of setting up my small business.


One of our associates will follow up with you shortly