Wicker Votes to Advance Autonomous Vehicle Legislation

Bill Includes Provisions Championed by Miss. Senator, Including ‘HOT CARS Act’

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today voted in favor of advancing the “American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies (AV START) Act,” S. 1885, which advances efforts to improve roadway safety through the deployment of self-driving vehicles. The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved the bill unanimously.

That proposal, which now awaits action by the full Senate, also includes a provision cosponsored by Wicker to help prevent the deaths of children left in overheated cars. The amendment would require automakers to equip cars with technology to alert drivers if a child is left in the back seat once the car is turned off.

“The future of autonomous vehicles is quickly becoming a reality,” Wicker said. “As Congress works to develop federal policies for the safe use of these vehicles on our roads, ensuring that our children are protected from heatstroke should be a part of that discussion. I am pleased that the committee recognizes the importance of installing sensors in cars to let drivers know when a child has been left in the backseat. This is a sensible solution that will help save lives.”

The bill would also require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to contract with an independent third-party to study options for retrofitting existing vehicles to address the problem of children being unintentionally left behind in vehicles. This study would provide recommendations to manufacturers to make sure products perform as intended; and to consumers on how to select the right technology.

A recent report found that Mississippi has had the worst number of deaths per capita, with 17 children dying in parked cars since 1998. Nationwide, heatstroke in a vehicle has been the cause of death for 729 children over the past 19 years – most of them accidental, with parents or caregivers simply forgetting a child was in the backseat of the car.