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Chuck Kennedy/Axios

John Bozzella, president and CEO of Global Automakers, said at an Axios event Thursday that it's "critically important" that Congress pass federal legislation on autonomous vehicles.

Why it matters: It's been one year since the House approved the Self Drive Act, but the Senate has yet to pass it. This delay is set against a growing fear in Washington, Silicon Valley and the auto industry that the U.S. will fall dangerously behind in autonomous vehicle standards and policies while China and Europe leap ahead.

"My fear is we fall behind with the rest of the world."
— Congressman Robert Latta (R-Ohio), chairman of the Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection subcommittee

The big picture: As breakthroughs are happening on the mechanical, computer and engineering levels with regard to autonomous vehicles, "time is running out" on moving policy forward, said Latta.

Meanwhile, the industry is struggling with toeing the line on actual safety and creating the public perception of safety.

  • It's unrealistic to expect there won't be accidents involving autonomous vehicles during testing, said Latta, but that shouldn't keep Congress from passing legislation to pursue it. He also pointed to the fact that tens of thousands of deaths each year are caused by human error.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.
3 hours ago - Health

Standardized testing becomes another pandemic victim

Photo: Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty

National standardized reading and math tests have been pushed from next year to 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: There’s mounting national evidence that students are suffering major setbacks this year, with a surge in the number of failing grades.

4 hours ago - World

European countries extend lockdowns

A medical worker takes a COVID-19 throat swab sample at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport. Photo by Maja Hitij via Getty

Recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Europe have led authorities to extend restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

Why it matters: "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.