GRAIN VALLEY, MO — As U.S. legislation to govern autonomous passenger vehicles pushes forward, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and Teamsters Union are both weighing in with thoughts about the path toward rules for autonomous trucks.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation advanced the passenger vehicle legislation on Wednesday.
“We will work closely with members of the commerce committee to craft legislation that takes into account the impact autonomous technology will have on professional drivers, small businesses and most importantly, highway safety,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president.
The group wants a truck-specific bill to include studies that analyze the effect of changing technologies across the trucking industry, such as job displacement, and a cost-benefit analysis for small businesses.
“We also want to make sure that several safety and security issues are appropriately addressed specific to the needs of large trucks,” added Spencer.
American Trucking Associations (ATA) president Chris Spear expressed disappointment last week that the passenger vehicle regulation didn’t also include trucks. “If more automated cars and trucks are to share the roads, they should also share the same framework,” he said.
Jim Hoffa, Teamsters general president, didn’t agree with ATA.
“Despite the attempts from industry to white wash the issues facing 80,000-pound trucks as somehow identical to those of tiny passenger cars, anyone working in this industry knows this [is] not even remotely close to the case,” he said.
Trucking-specific rules should consider “life and death issues” specific to the industry and consider the millions of Americans who work in or around the vehicles, Hoffa added.
“The Teamsters continue to follow the development of autonomous driving technology closely, tracking the potential impact on both hundreds of thousands of Teamster members as well as the broader motoring public,” Hoffa said. “This technology holds the potential to impact the daily livelihoods of millions of American workers for better, or worse. The direction that this technology takes our nation will be dictated in no small part by the actions that lawmakers and regulators take in the coming years as they examine this ever-changing landscape.”