NCL applauds pro-consumer additions to autonomous vehicle (AV) legislation

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Posted by NCL Communications - October, 2017

October 4, 2017

Contact: NCL Communications, Cindy Hoang, (202) 207-2832, cindyh@nclnet.org

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) is applauding a series of positive changes adopted by the Senate Commerce Committee today on a bill that will set the regulatory and legal framework for the deployment of autonomous vehicles in America in for years to come. The bill, the American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act, or AV START Act (S. 1885), is still undergoing changes that the advocates hope will make the AV deployment safer and more consumer-friendly.

Sally Greenberg, NCL executive director said: “Thanks to robust consumer advocacy and the support of consumer champions on the Committee, including Ranking Member Nelson (D-FL), Senators Blumenthal (D-CT), Markey (D-MA), and Baldwin (D-WI) and many others, the bill is much improved, though we still have concerns about AV rollout’s impact on consumer safety protections. We are very pleased to finally have a provision that will address the problem of children dying in hot cars, and provisions giving consumers access to information about AVs.”

NCL, along with other consumer and auto safety organizations, raised concerns at a press conference on October 3 about the bill, including that it contained provisions that would weaken auto safety laws, preempt localities from protecting their own citizens, restrict the right of consumers to go to court if they are injured by faulty designs, and generally leave consumers at risk. NCL also worked with a coalition that included members of industry who share concerns about consumers controlling their data related to AVs and support a provision setting up a federal commission to study the issue. Such a commission would include consumer advocates with expertise on safety and privacy – and make recommendations to Congress on how best to protect the privacy of those data. Many – though not all – of those concerns were addressed at the Senate Commerce Committee markup today.

NCL noted that consumer advocates remained concerned by how the legislation would undermine some of the safeguards on which consumers rely and intend to work with senators to further improve the bill so that it sets up a safety framework that better protects consumers in AVs. “We are getting there,” said Greenberg. “All in all, the bill the Committee adopted today is a vast improvement over the initial drafts. We are grateful to members of the Committee who embraced the need for far greater consumer and privacy protections and supported these critical improvements to the bill.

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

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