Sun. Sep 24th, 2023
    California Senate Passes Bill Requiring Human Drivers in Autonomous Trucks

    The California Senate has passed a bill that mandates human drivers to be present in autonomous trucks on state highways for at least the next five years. The legislation, Assembly Bill 316, requires driverless trucks, ranging from 10,000 pounds to 80,000 pounds, to have a human safety driver on board. The bill was sponsored by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) and received a 36-2 vote in the Senate. However, Governor Gavin Newsom’s office has expressed concerns about the bill hampering innovation and competitiveness.

    While proponents of the bill argue that the requirement for human drivers can be removed earlier if vehicle safety is reasonably assured, opponents, including the Teamsters trucker union, believe the issue is about potential job loss. The safety concerns surrounding autonomous vehicles have been highlighted by incidents where driverless taxis operated by Cruise and Waymo have obstructed emergency vehicles in San Francisco. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has also faced criticism for its regulation of driverless car safety, particularly in regard to Tesla’s Full-Self Driving technology.

    As Governor Newsom decides whether to veto the bill or sign it, the debate raises questions about the state’s balance between safety and innovation in the autonomous vehicle industry. If Newsom vetoes the bill, Aguiar-Curry plans to push for an override vote, which would require a two-thirds majority vote in each house of the Legislature.

    Sources: Los Angeles Times

    – Autonomous trucks: Trucks that can operate without human intervention, utilizing advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and sensors.
    – Driverless: Operating without a human driver.
    – Assembly Bill 316: Legislation passed in California that requires autonomous trucks to have a human safety driver on board while operating on state highways.
    – Competitiveness: The ability of a company or entity to compete successfully in the market.
    – Supply chain: The sequence of processes involved in producing and distributing goods, from the initial raw materials to the final delivery to the customer.
    – Oversight: Supervision or monitoring, typically from a regulatory or governing body.
    – Tesla: An electric vehicle and clean energy company known for its autonomous driving technology.
    – California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): The state agency responsible for regulating the motor vehicle industry and implementing laws related to vehicle safety and registration.