California Lawmakers and Teamsters Come Together to Push for Bill Requiring Human Drivers in AV Trucks

interior of self driving vehicle

As regulations for autonomous trucking gain traction, California lawmakers and labor unions, led by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, are actively advocating for a bill to control its advancement. Assembly Bill 2286, authored by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), proposes the mandatory presence of a human driver for testing, transporting goods, or carrying passengers in self-driving trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds.

A rally in support of the bill took place outside the State Capitol in Sacramento, drawing Teamster leaders and lawmakers, including Assemblymembers Tom Lackey (R-Boron) and Laura Friedman (D-Glendale).

“As autonomous vehicle companies try to push their new, untested technology onto our roads, we need to prioritize legislation that will protect our streets and good-paying driving jobs, and that starts with AB 2286,” said Peter Finn, Teamsters International Western Region Vice President, President of Teamsters Joint Council 7.

This legislation mirrors last year’s AB 316, also co-authored by Aguiar-Curry, with the aim of enhancing safety and job opportunities. Despite receiving strong legislative support, surpassing 90%, Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed the bill in September.

Proponents of AB 2286 highlight notable accidents involving autonomous vehicles, such as a Cruise robotaxi causing incidents in San Francisco, emphasizing the need for improved regulations and safety measures.

Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry stresses the crucial role of the legislature in determining the safety of autonomous trucking and ensuring a concrete plan for the well-being of trucking workers.

“The autonomous trucking industry has cast this bill as a ban on technology when it explicitly states that testing and deployment will happen with a Human Safety Operator,” she said. “Using their logic, they’re the ones who support a ban. A ban on humans in trucks. A ban on working people’s ability to provide for their families and provide safe roadways for Californians. We will not stand by and let them put profits over people.”

Chris Griswold, Teamsters International vice president at-large and president of Teamsters Joint Council 42, clarifies that the bill does not intend to ban self-driving technology but rather seeks to establish comprehensive regulations.

“It is a bipartisan bill that puts safety first by ensuring a trained human operator behind the wheel of autonomous trucks,” he said.

Beyond California, discussions on regulating autonomous trucks persist across the United States. In South Dakota, the Teamsters and the South Dakota Peace Officers Association oppose House Bill 1095, which proposes allowing autonomous trucks on South Dakota roads without human operators. In Florida, Senator Victor Torres (D-Orlando) proposes SB 1580, requiring a licensed human operator in self-driving vehicles. In Indiana, Teamsters advocate for House Bill 1022 in the Road and Transportation Committee, emphasizing the need for human operators in driverless trucks. Similar deliberations are underway in Iowa, Kentucky, and New York, where lawmakers are exploring various issues related to regulating autonomous vehicle trucks.



Source: Commercial Carrier Journal