Carmakers Urge U.S. to Halt State-Level Rules on Self-Driving Cars

The U.S. government should avoid stifling autonomous car development by ordering states not to enact their own laws about such vehicles, carmakers plan to tell Congress today.

The companies will argue that federal oversight would block states from creating a patchwork of sometimes contradictory laws. Such a mosaic would, among other things, make lawful interstate travel in an self-driving car difficult at best, Bloomberg News reports.

Last September the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued guidelines for developers of robotic cars. NHTSA also spelled out general suggestions for state-level rulemaking, but it offered no specific standards.

The result, Volvo Cars NV is expected to say before a House hearing today, is that 48 bills about autonomous vehicles have been introduced in 20 states in the past two months alone, Bloomberg says. Toyota and ride hailing service Lyft are scheduled to argue that resolving the state-by-state differences that are likely to result could stall the ability to implement the traffic safety improvements possible with autonomous driving technologies for years.

General Motors Co. is expected to add that fully autonomous vehicles are outlawed by current federal auto safety standards, which require a human driver at the controls. Without updating those laws, GM warns, “thousands of preventable deaths that could have been avoided will happen.”