In his Nov. 2 Local Opinions commentary, “Driverless cars are coming. Here’s how not to regulate them,” Marc Scribner criticized legislation I introduced to legalize autonomous vehicles in the District. Perhaps Mr. Scribner is unfamiliar with the legislative process: After a bill is introduced, legislatures hold hearings and invite comment in order to improve the legislation before it comes up for a vote. After meeting with the auto industry, I removed two of the provisions Mr. Scribner criticized — requiring autonomous vehicles to use alternative fuels and subjecting them to a vehicle-miles-traveled fee in lieu of the motor fuels tax — from the bill several weeks ago. These changes were discussed throughout the Oct. 23 hearing that Mr. Scribner referenced in his piece.
Before bringing this bill up for a vote this month, I will continue working with the industry to make sure that it fully supports this emerging technology.
Mr. Scribner’s third criticism — requiring a licensed driver be present in the driver’s seat — is a necessity of the current technology. In a few years, cars will be able to operate reliably without drivers, but we are not there yet. As the representative from Daimler testified at the hearing, “We do not believe we’re at the point of replacing the driver. . . . And I suggest we not rush into it, because the public streets really aren’t the place for a ‘trial and error’ testing approach.”
The Daimler representative concluded, “With this legislation, the District of Columbia will become the first in the all-important Northeast corridor of the U.S. to address the issue of autonomous vehicles.” I look forward to the passage of this legislation and having autonomous vehicles on our streets soon.
Mary M. Cheh, Washington
The writer (D-Ward 3) is a member of the D.C. Council.