Rep. Greg Walden used his chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to work with automakers and tech companies to hammer out a measure that allows testing of more self-driving cars on American roads.

Rep. Greg Walden used his chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to work with automakers and tech companies to hammer out a measure that allows testing of more self-driving cars on American roads.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The U.S. House on Tuesday passed a bill to spur the widespread use of self-driving cars that was partly crafted by Rep. Greg Walden, R-Oregon.

Walden used his chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to work with automakers and tech companies to hammer out a measure that allows testing of more self-driving cars on American roads.

“Today marks a really important milestone in our pursuit to make our roadways safer and support American leadership in self-driving innovation,” Walden said on the House floor before the measure passed on a voice vote with no objection.

The bill now heads to the Senate where it faces concern from consumer groups and unions. Reuters has reported there could be opposition from the Teamsters, although the union was pleased the House bill did not cover commercial trucks.

The measure would override many state rules and allow companies to test a steadily increasing number of vehicles on public roads. In the first year, up to 25,000 vehicles could be deployed. That number would rise to 100,000 in the third year.

Walden said he’s particularly interested in reducing the number of auto-related fatalities in the U.S., which last year topped 40,000. 

“While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can’t write a safety standard to make us all perfect drivers,” he said, “it can work to advance life-saving technologies to avoid collisions.”