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Keep Regulators’ Hands off the Wheel

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Good morning, friends!

An op-ed in Monday’s Wall Street Journal offers a warning about how the development and production of autonomous vehicles could be stifled. The piece’s title says it all – “The Feds Could Block the Road to the Driverless Car.”

Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, writes,

Now, with fully autonomous vehicles only a few years from mass production, the automobile could become unrecognizable from past iterations. Change isn’t always easy, but regulators, business leaders and consumers should embrace this revolution, not fear it.

Shapiro then discusses efforts among state and federal officials to regulate self-driving cars. Unsurprisingly, those “regulatory policies run the gamut.”

In his book in CRN’s Room To Grow series, David Levinson, professor of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering at the University of Minnesota, addresses the benefits of autonomous vehicles and how policymakers should approach them. In Modernizing American Transportation Policy, Levinson writes about driverless cars,

Just as with new medicines, it is important that the government not impose barriers to their introduction, as the cost of preventing such innovations outweighs the risks involved in allowing them.

That is not to say, however, that autonomous vehicles shouldn’t be regulated. For example, as self-driving cars hit the marketplace, policymakers will need to reform liability and insurance laws.

For the successful development of safe driverless cars, however, Levinson cautions, “The issues are complex, but it is important to work with existing carmakers and new entrants to ensure existing 20th-century rules and regulations don’t backfire and suffocate promising 21st-century technology.”

For more on how policymakers should approach autonomous vehicles and other measures to modernize America’s transportation policy, check out David Levinson’s book here.