The Push for Self-Driving Cars

Taking a big step forward for self-driving cars, Ford Motor Co., Google, Lyft, Uber Technologies Inc. and Volvo Cars joined together to form “The Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets.” The goal of the group, according to Automotive News is to “work with lawmakers, regulators, and the public to realize the safety and societal benefits of self-driving vehicles…The five companies, which all are working on self-driving cars, say one of the group’s first tasks is to ‘work with civic organizations, municipalities and businesses to bring the vision of self-driving vehicles to America’s roads and highways.’” Reuters reports that in “2014 there were 32,675 fatalities and 2.3 million injured in 6.1 million crashes on U.S. roads. NHTSA says about 94 percent of all traffic crashes are caused by human error.”

The coalition will retain David Strickland as its counsel and spokesman. In a statement Strickland said, “”The best path for this innovation is to have one clear set of federal standards and the coalition will work with policymakers to find the right solutions that will facilitate the deployment of self-driving vehicles.”

Strickland is a Partner in Venable’s Regulatory Group. Before that he “served as the fourteenth Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  As the top automotive safety official in the United States, he was responsible for executing the agency’s mission to reduce crash-related fatalities and injuries while insuring the highest standards of safety on the nation’s roads.”

Strickland has experience lobbying for auto industry groups according to his lobbying disclosures. He also represents Cox Automotive and the Association of Global Automakers.

The lobbying push for self-driving vehicles has started to grow in recent weeks with other prominent organizations such as General Motors hiring lobbyists to represent their interests on the issue. GM “brought on The Fritts Group, a boutique lobbying firm, to advocate on self-driving cars, connected cars and cybersecurity privacy, according to a disclosure filed” in early-April reports The Hill.

One possible reason for the lobbying push is that U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx has previously announced that he planned to develop policy for autonomous cars by this summer. In January, The Verge reports, Secretary Foxx announced that, “within six months, his agency will work with states, manufacturers, and others to develop a “model” state policy for autonomous cars with the goal of creating a consistent national policy.”

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