Legislation Unions State laws Trucking Transportation

California bill aimed at banning driverless trucks moving through Senate

Photo: gorodenkoff/iStockphoto

Sacramento, CA — The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is applauding the advancement of legislation that would prohibit autonomous trucks from operating on California roadways without human drivers.

Introduced in the California Assembly in January, A.B. 316 was unanimously approved by the Senate Transportation Committee on July 12. The bill has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Under the bill, autonomous trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds would be restricted from state travel “for testing purposes, transporting goods or transporting passengers without a human safety operator physically present in the autonomous vehicle at the time of operation.”

Further, the legislation would keep the California Highway Patrol and Department of Motor Vehicles from considering permits for autonomous vehicles until 2029.

In a press release, the Teamsters cite a AAA survey of a nationally representative group of U.S. adults conducted in January showing that 68% are fearful of self-driving cars – up from 55% last year. The labor union also points to a RABA Research survey of Texas residents, conducted in April, in which 73% of respondents said they weren’t comfortable sharing the road with driverless semitrucks or tractor-trailers. 

“We’ve already seen dozens of [autonomous vehicle]-related safety incidents, and it’s time we stopped treating the public like crash test dummies,” Jason Rabinowitz, Teamsters Joint Council 7 president, said in the release.

Opponents of A.B. 316 include the Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association, which argues that human drivers may not be safer than autonomous vehicles.

In a May 31 press release – issued in response to the bill passing in the Assembly – AVIA Executive Director Jeff Farrah calls the legislation “a preemptive technology ban that will put California even further behind other states and lock in the devastating safety status quo on California’s roads, which saw more than 4,400 people die last year.”

Farrah adds that the bill “undermines California’s law enforcement and safety officials as they seek to regulate and conduct oversight over lifesaving autonomous trucks.”

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