California Senate Passes Bill Requiring Human Operator in Self-Driving Trucks

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Teamster-supported legislation that would require a trained human operator in autonomous vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds overwhelmingly passed the California Senate on Sept. 12 with strong bipartisan support, and heads to Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Teamsters announced in a news release. 

California Assembly Bill 316, first introduced in January by state assemblymembers Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters, Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, and Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, received votes in favor from all but four state senators.

"During the pandemic, Gov. Newsom thanked Teamster truck drivers for risking their lives to keep the economy afloat. But he actually needs to prove that he cares about workers by signing AB 316. If Gov. Newsom vetoes this bill, he is putting the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of truck drivers at risk, while jeopardizing public safety," said Teamsters General President Sean M. O'Brien. "The Teamsters rightfully stand against such dangerous technology. We will fight to make sure AB 316 becomes law."

"I am thrilled that AB 316 passed the California Senate with bi-partisan support," said Aguiar-Curry, assembly speaker pro tempore. "The people of California have spoken---they are scared of moving too fast with this technology, before it can be proven to be safe. Furthermore, the rush to profits while ignoring the impact on public safety and jobs must not happen."

The Sept. 12 vote comes on the heels of new public polling showing nearly three-fourths of Californians across party lines, gender, geography and all other demographics support AB 316, which would help keep California roads safe and protect good-paying jobs. The poll also highlights an overwhelming number of Californians are uncomfortable being on the road alongside driverless vehicles. The Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development recently voiced opposition to AB 316 via an agency letter.

The Teamsters will rally in Los Angeles and Sacramento, alongside thousands of labor allies, elected officials and California public safety officials in support of AB 316.

AB 316 is supported by the Teamsters and the California Labor Federation.

On the same day, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters released a guiding document for federal policymakers to address issues with autonomous vehicles (AVs). The framework, Autonomous Vehicle Federal Policy Principles, arrives at a critical time when accidents caused by self-driving cars and trucks increasingly harm families and put communities at risk across the nation.

The Teamsters outlined five key principles for Congress and federal regulators to follow for a federal AV policy that protects workers and enforces safety standards, including:

  • Regulating the vehicle: The federal government has authority over vehicle manufacturing and performance standards and must apply these authorities to self-driving cars and trucks
  • Regulating the operator: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the driver of commercial vehicles, and the circumstances and safety conditions in which they operate
  • Regulating operations: The Department of Transportation and FMCSA possess numerous regulatory authorities related to the safe operations of vehicles and the ability of carriers to receive authority to begin and continue operations
  • Interaction with other laws: Congress must consider issues that may arise from the relationship between existing law and the efforts to legislate and regulate AVs
  • Workforce impacts: Congress cannot entertain any legislative package dealing with self-driving cars and trucks that does not directly and forcefully address issues related to the workforce, and any changing operational or economic conditions that occur as the result of AV commercialization.

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