Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Every year on our nation's roadways, more than 35,000 people tragically lose their lives due to traffic accidents—a large number of them caused by distracted driving.

With so many traffic fatalities resulting from human error, we have to ask ourselves if there is a better way. American innovation may have the answer to this problem — in the form of self-driving cars.

While it may seem like science fiction, the reality is that technological breakthroughs have allowed for deployment of these cars to be right around the corner.

Recently, I chaired a hearing of the Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee where my colleagues and I listened to industry leaders testify about the possibilities of their self-driving vehicles. The takeaway was clear: the heavy hand of government can't obstruct the development of such vital, life-saving technology. While there is no doubt that safety parameters will be needed, we should be leaving the innovating to the innovators.

Of course, self-driving cars are not just about improving safety; they would positively impact the quality of life for countless Americans. For instance, the increased mobility that self-driving cars would provide for individuals with disabilities or underserved communities would make it easier for them to get to and from their job, take a trip to the grocery store, and go to the doctor.

At the same time, seniors would be aided by the use of self-driving cars as well. Many of us can think of family members that will benefit from the freedom that this new form of transportation would provide.

So, what role does Congress play with such brand new technology? The first role is to be both a listener and observer. While concerns of government overreach were mentioned in our recent hearing, these stakeholders also brought up the difficulty of planning, testing, and deploying technology with the prospect of facing an inconsistent patchwork of rules across 50 different states. We have to ensure that innovators have the certainty they need to thrive.

Like game-changing innovation of the past 50 years — the personal computer, the mobile phone, and the internet — self-driving cars have the potential to improve the lives of millions. Congress needs to take the right, measured approach to allow innovative minds do what they do best and change the world.

Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) serves the fifth district of Ohio in the House of Representatives. He is a member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee where he serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection.

Go deeper

35 mins ago - Politics & Policy

McConnell drops filibuster demand, paving way for power-sharing deal

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (R) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attend a joint session of Congress. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has abandoned his demand that Democrats state, in writing, that they would not abandon the legislative filibuster.

Between the lines: McConnell was never going to agree to a 50-50 power sharing deal without putting up a fight over keeping the 60-vote threshold. But the minority leader ultimately caved after it became clear that delaying the organizing resolution was no longer feasible.

2 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: Google won't donate to members of Congress who voted against election results

Sen. Ted Cruz led the group of Republicans who opposed certifying the results. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Google will not make contributions from its political action committee this cycle to any member of Congress who voted against certifying the results of the presidential election, following the deadly Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Several major businesses paused or pulled political donations following the events of Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters, riled up by former President Trump, stormed the Capitol on the day it was to certify the election results.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Minority Mitch still setting Senate agenda

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Chuck Schumer may be majority leader, yet in many ways, Mitch McConnell is still running the Senate show — and his counterpart is about done with it.

Why it matters: McConnell rolled over Democrats unapologetically, and kept tight control over his fellow Republicans, while in the majority. But he's showing equal skill as minority leader, using political jiujitsu to convert a perceived weakness into strength.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!