The Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee heard two hours of testimony in February from autonomous vehicles experts from General Motors (GM), Volvo, Toyota, and Lyft, urging a relaxed regulatory environment to drive the growth of self-driving cars and trucks.

“The promise of self-driving cars to save thousands of lives in the United States and around the world cannot be understated. And we should remember that this technology doesn’t have to be perfect to significantly improve safety,” says U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Oregon, chairman of the subcommittee. “This technology can increase transportation access to underserved communities, expand labor productivity, improve mobility, reduce congestion, and drive new efficiencies and cost savings into businesses. In turn, increasing opportunities for job creation and investment.”

He adds that Congress needs to create the right environment to ensure that autonomous technology is developed in the United States.

“Ten percent of vehicle fatalities and 18% of injuries in crashes are due to distracted driving,” says Micheal Ableson, vice president of global strategy at GM. “With 94% of fatal crashes caused by human behavior, there is tremendous potential in deploying technology that can do much better. Self-driving cars won’t drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol, they won’t be distracted by a cell phone, they won’t drive drowsy or recklessly, and their speed will be limited to that of the local laws and conditions.” www.energycommerce.house.gov