The No. 1 cause of vehicle crashes is driver error. In fact, driver error contributes to more than 9 out of 10 crashes. Innovation in the auto industry has led to enormous leaps forward in vehicle safety but, given the role of drivers in crashes, autonomous vehicles (AVs) and related safety technologies can play an important role in helping us to significantly reduce crashes and traffic fatalities.

The benefits AVs promise to society extend beyond the critical issue of safety. Many people are unable to drive due to physical disabilities or advanced age, which challenges their ability to live an independent life and to get to and from work or to health care appointments. AVs can help meet these mobility needs for millions of Americans.

As an important part of sustained efforts to improve vehicle safety and increase access to mobility, automakers, automotive suppliers and technology companies have spent billions developing AV technologies. Unfortunately, outdated government policies are unable to keep pace with such technological innovations which points to the need to modernize regulatory structures that were designed before the advent of the cellphone. Thankfully, bipartisan proposals over the last few years seek to help to modernize vehicle regulations to safely support wider-scale testing and deployment of AVs.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation is eager to work with the new administration and Congress to develop and implement policies to advance AV testing and deployment here in the United States. That is why we recently released a Policy Roadmap to Advance Automated Vehicle Innovation.

The AV Roadmap includes 14 policy recommendations that can be implemented over the next four years to drive further safety innovation and transform personal mobility. These recommendations are focused on modernizing regulations, harmonizing policies and laying the foundation to achieve longer-term goals.

Among the recommendations, we propose the creation of a robust national pilot program to advance AV testing and deployment under the Department of Transportation’s oversight and to generate the safety-related data that the department will need for any potential future rulemakings. We also suggest that a new automated vehicle class be created as the most efficient way to incorporate AVs into the existing federal regulatory structure without impacting regulations for conventionally driven vehicles. Finally, we recommend that states be incentivized to coordinate with each other across state lines on traffic laws and on AV laws and regulations.

AVs hold tremendous promise for a cleaner, safer, smarter future for mobility, but only if innovators, policymakers and other stakeholders work together on smart federal policies that make widespread adoption a reality. Focused and sustained U.S. leadership from elected officials on both sides of the aisle is required to ensure this technology and the benefits it can deliver for the public are ultimately realized.

Working together, we have the opportunity to reduce the 90 percent of vehicle crashes that are caused by human error, lower congestion and emissions, and ensure that America remains the leader in innovative technologies that improve lives.

Bozzella is president and CEO of Alliance for Automotive Innovation.

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