Teamsters Rally for Bill Requiring Human Operators in Self-Driving Vehicles

Teamsters and their supporters gathered in Arcadia on Monday to advocate for a legislative bill, Assembly Bill 316, which would mandate the presence of a human operator in self-driving vehicles weighing over 10,001 pounds. The union argues that this bill prioritizes road safety and protects approximately 200,000 jobs in California. However, opponents argue that it would hinder the state’s efforts to provide safe and cost-effective transportation of goods, especially when the trucking industry is already struggling to attract and retain drivers.

The trucking industry is facing a shortage of around 60,000 drivers. Many drivers are leaving their jobs in search of better pay, benefits, and working conditions. Additionally, they often do not receive compensation for the time they spend caught in traffic jams, construction zones, bad weather, or other delays on the road.

Assembly Bill 316 has received final approval in the Senate and is now on its way to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk. However, Newsom has expressed skepticism about the legislation. Dee Dee Myers, a senior advisor to the governor, argued in a letter that the bill takes an inflexible approach and fails to acknowledge the progress being made by the federal government and other states in adopting self-driving technology.

Jared Hamil, a UPS package driver, supports Assembly Bill 316 because he believes that the technology is not yet advanced enough to be operated without human intervention. He points to incidents in San Francisco involving autonomous taxis from General Motor’s Cruise and Alphabet’s Waymo that have caused accidents and obstructed traffic, including collisions with emergency vehicles. San Francisco leaders have even requested a halt in the expansion of robo-taxi service in the city.

Kim Roberson, a bus driver, also expresses concerns about the limitations of autonomous vehicles. She argues that they would not be equipped to assist individuals experiencing medical emergencies or alert the fire department in the event of a burning home. She likens self-driving vehicles to autopilot on an airplane, where a human operator is still necessary in case of unexpected situations.

The rally in Arcadia was followed by a march to the state Capitol in Sacramento on Tuesday, where Teamsters continued to advocate for the bill’s passage.

– Smart Trucking
– CBS News