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Michigan Is Leading the Mobility Race but Policy Must Keep Up

By Kristin Bull

Michigan is at the forefront of the mobility revolution. That revolution is moving fast — and public policy needs to keep up. That was the sentiment expressed by industry experts during a panel discussion Wednesday.

“Michigan is very well positioned, but a critical element for success is the need for a regulatory environment that can move at the speed of innovation,” said David Sampson, president and CEO of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.

Sampson joined U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI); Carla Bailo, president and CEO of the Center for Automotive Research; and Pavan Agarwal, Management Committee member for Foley & Lardner LLP, for a discussion entitled “The Mobility State: Perspectives on Policy and Regulation.” John McElroy, host of “Autoline,” moderated the discussion.

Peters responded to Sampson’s call for high-speed public policy. Last fall, Peters introduced the bipartisan AV START Act, designed to advance the testing and development of self-driving vehicles. Peters said he sees the full Senate taking up the Act by the end of the year.

Panelists agreed the state’s robust engineering talent pool, world-class R&D testing centers like the American Center for Mobility, and its automotive roots help it lead the mobility race.

Key Takeaways:

  • Every high-profile accident involving an autonomous vehicle is a setback in furthering innovation. Recent accidents involving Tesla and Uber illustrate the need for testing, refinement and re-testing.
  • While safety regulations are paramount in the race to lead the mobility revolution, over-regulation on autonomous vehicle testing will hamper discovery.
  • There is much still to learn about the standards for safety. “Must autonomous vehicles be as safe as the current distracted driver?” Sampson asked. Today’s cars are safer than ever because of crash avoidance technology, yet 65 percent of people are turning off AV technology in their car.
  • Consumer acceptance of autonomous vehicles continues to be an industry challenge. A recent study of consumers’ attitudes toward autonomous cars in Florida showed that 80 percent of adults surveyed reported they were leery; after physically seeing the vehicles and understanding their capabilities, responses improved.
  • The insurance industry is a proponent of technology that improves safety and reduces the severity of accidents, and though the introduction of autonomous vehicles leads to several types of insurance products, there will always be a need for insurance.
  • The insurance industry will play a bigger role in mitigating risk by not just insuring the driver, but also insuring best practices in driving.

This article was written by Crain’s Content Studio as part of a collaborative partnership with the Detroit Regional Chamber for the 2018 Mackinac Policy Conference.