Lawmakers laying guidelines to bring self-driving vehicles into everyday life

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The future of driving is within arm's reach.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao says many Americans are still nervous about the integration of autonomous vehicles.

That according to leaders in Washington D.C. All branches of the government are working to provide a path for normalizing autonomous vehicles. The House of Representatives recently passed a bill that provides guidelines for the industry. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao says things are moving fast.

"The advent of autonomous vehicles, self-driving cars, are actually proceeding much faster than what we would have thought," Chao said.

Self-driving vehicles are nearing a part in everyday life, according to Chao. She says we need to be prepared for this new age of driving.

"Public perception is that a lot of people are not comfortable. A lot of passengers are not comfortable yet with self-driving cars," said Chao.

Questions remain over safety, insurance and regulations. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) is chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. As he and his colleagues craft legislation to pave the way for integration, he says there is a lot of work to be done.

"What we're trying to do is not so much ... prescribe every little thing that needs to be done in terms of governing this development, but just make sure that there are some within the lanes over there that we've got some guard rails so to speak," said Thune.

Thune says over-regulation could hurt innovation in the self-driving sector. Others say we need a hands-on approach to hands-off driving.

"We fully support technology and see in the future that has tremendous opportunity to save lives, reduce injuries and contain crash costs. But they need to be deployed safely," said Cathy Chase, vice president of governmental affairs at Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

Chase says she wants to see more data on how these vehicles will perform and believes there need to be fewer exemptions from motor vehicle standards. She says a bill recently passed in the House doesn't adequately address these issues.

"This could the first step in the direction of regulating autonomous vehicles, but more clearly needs to be done," Chase said.

Thune says he is hoping to pass legislation soon that will eventually go to the president's desk.