On September 22, California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would require drivers to sit in the cabs of self-driving trucks. Truckers say it could save hundreds of thousands of jobs in the state.
The law would prohibit autonomous trucks weighing more than 10000 pounds from driving on public roads without a person in the cab.
Newsom appealed to a 2012 law that allows the state Department of Motor Vehicles to work with the California Highway Patrol, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration «and other organizations with relevant expertise to determine the rules necessary for the safe operation of autonomous vehicles on public roadways.»
The governor vetoed the bill given the growing debate over the future of driverless vehicles.
The head of the California Federation of Labor, Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, called Newsom’s veto shocking because she believes that autonomous trucks are dangerous for drivers.
There are about 200000 commercial truckers in California, according to the Teamsters union. Fletcher believes the state will now lose a quarter of a million jobs.
Supporters of autonomous trucks argue that the vehicles already on the road haven’t caused as many serious accidents as human-driven vehicles. At the same time, representatives of enterprises claim that unmanned trucks will help them transport products more efficiently.
Union leaders and drivers said the bill would help address safety concerns and job losses for truckers due to automation in the future.
The bill passed through the Legislature with few legislators voting against it. It’s part of an ongoing debate about the potential risks of self-driving vehicles and how workers are adapting to a new era in which companies adopt technology to do jobs traditionally done by humans.
Last week in Sacramento, hundreds of truckers, union leaders and other supporters of the bill gathered at the State Capitol. Drivers chanted “sign this bill” as they lined the street in front of the Capitol.