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OPINION

Letter: Pass autonomous vehicle legislation

DetroitNews

Saginaw has a rich history in the automotive industry, and now Michigan is in the envious position of being able to maintain and advance our status as the auto-industry capitol of the world.

Recently, autonomous vehicle legislation called the Safe Autonomous Vehicle Act (SAVE) was introduced in the Michigan Legislature. This legislation helps create a regulatory environment conducive to keeping us as the world’s leader in automotive manufacturing, research and development.

The main sponsor of the bills, state Sen. Mike Kowall, recently said, “Michigan’s dominance in auto research and development is under attack from several states and countries who desire to supplant our leadership in transportation. We can’t let that happen.”

The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce strongly supports this package of bills and urges the Michigan House of Representatives to pass them before the end of the year. The bills will not only reaffirm Michigan’s position at the forefront of the auto industry, but are a safe, measured way to roll out autonomous vehicles.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 35,000 people died in 2015 in vehicular crashes across America, and over 2 million crashes caused serious injuries and property damage. Ninety percent of these accidents were caused by human error. These bills, and autonomous vehicles, will save lives.

Autonomous vehicles open up new possibilities for travel. Options will begin to emerge for a number of Americans whose mobility and independence was previously restricted. Consumers can travel with ease and on their own time, including those who do not want to own a car and those who do not have access to mass transit options.

The automotive industry has a huge impact on Michigan’s overall economy and business community. Saginaw County and the Great Lakes Bay Region is home to many companies that have a role in the automotive industry and will certainly be impacted in a positive way by the passage of the autonomous vehicle bills.

This legislation will enable these companies to become more competitive and successful. Investing in autonomous vehicles will create jobs and spur ongoing economic development in the state.

The SAVE Act is necessary to help achieve the future of autonomous vehicles. By authorizing and supporting this type of testing and operation, we will help autonomous vehicles become a reality sooner. This package of bills provides Michigan with the competitive advantage to lead the next major transition in the automotive industry.

This bill package is the best way to ensure a safe transition to autonomous vehicles and would make Michigan the national model and provide a framework for other states to follow.

We urge quick action and passage of this package of bills.

Bob Van Deventer, president and CEO

Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce