WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives Brian Mast (FL-21) and Greg Stanton (AZ-4), members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced the bipartisan Autonomous Vehicle (AV) Accessibility Act to help people with disabilities better access the mobility and independence benefits of ride-hail AVs.

“The AV Accessibility Act will jumpstart conversations and comprehensive work to ensure that those with disabilities are able to utilize ride hailing autonomous technology,” Rep. Mast said.  “The government should be working to reduce barriers to opportunity rather than creating them, this commonsense legislation does just that.  I look forward to working with Rep. Stanton to move this legislation ensuring those with disabilities have the same opportunities as anyone else.”

“Arizona is pioneering AV technology—more than a dozen companies are testing their driverless cars on our streets,” Rep. Stanton said.  “I’m proud to partner with Congressman Mast on this legislation to make sure people with disabilities feel empowered and safe to take advantage of this innovative technology.”

People with disabilities often face unique challenges accessing existing modes of transportation, and AVs hold tremendous potential to address unmet mobility needs.  However, AVs don’t fit neatly into the traditional legal constructs of driver and passenger and require policymakers to start thinking differently.

The AV Accessibility Act will ensure passengers are legally protected if an AV is pulled over or other issues occur, even if they do not hold a driver license due to their disability.  It also requires the U.S. Department of Transportation, in collaboration with the National Academies of Science, to study best practices for public transportation infrastructure to be modified to improve the ability of Americans with disabilities to find, access, and use ride-hail autonomous vehicles, including during pickup and drop off.

The bill has been endorsed by AV companies and national disability advocacy groups.

“Waymo celebrates Mr. Stanton and Mr. Mast for introducing the AV Accessibility Bill, which will enhance transportation opportunities for the blind community, people with other disabilities, and allow more Americans to benefit from this innovative and safe mobility technology,” Michelle Peacock, the Global Head of Public Policy at Waymo, said.  “We are proud to support this bill alongside the National Federation of the Blind and Blinded Veterans Association and look to others in Congress to join our shared mission to help Americans discover equitable mobility, and to support the Stanton/Mast bill.”

“In order for autonomous vehicles to change the transportation landscape for blind Americans, we must be able to access and use them independently, and provisions regulating their licensure and operation must not discriminate on the basis of blindness or other disabilities,” Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said.  “We commend Congressmen Stanton and Mast for recognizing these critical priorities and support the legislation they have just introduced.”

“Veterans who experience sight loss and are no longer able to operate a motor vehicle often confront overwhelming challenges as they attempt to access existing modes of transportation and infrastructure, on their own,” Donald D. Overton, Jr., Executive Director of the congressionally chartered Blinded Veterans Association, said.  “We thank Representative Brian Mast and Representative Greg Stanton for their demonstrated foresight and appreciation of advances in technology in introducing the bi-partisan Autonomous Vehicle Innovation and Infrastructure Act on behalf of these same veterans who must, independently, shop for food, arrive on time for medical appointments and volunteer assignments at VA facilities, or travel across town to visit friends or relatives.”

You can read the full bill here.