Sacramento, Calif. – California Governor Gavin Newsom has vetoed a bill that would have mandated the presence of human drivers in self-driving trucks. Union leaders and truck drivers had advocated for the measure, citing the preservation of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the state.
The legislation, vetoed on Friday night, aimed to prohibit the operation of self-driving trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds on public roads without a human driver onboard. This would have included a wide range of vehicles, from UPS delivery vans to massive big rigs.
Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, leader of the California Labor Federation, expressed dismay at Newsom’s veto, emphasizing the hazards posed by driverless trucks. She estimates that the elimination of drivers would result in a quarter million job losses within the state.
“We refuse to idly stand by as bureaucrats align with tech companies, putting our safety and jobs at risk in exchange for greater corporate profits. Our fight will persist to ensure that robots never replace human drivers and that technology is not exploited to dismantle valuable employment opportunities,” Fletcher stated in a late-night release.
In his announcement declining to sign the bill, the Democratic governor asserted that additional regulation pertaining to autonomous trucks was unnecessary due to existing laws already in place.
Newsom alluded to a 2012 legislation enabling collaboration between the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the California Highway Patrol, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “to ascertain the appropriate regulations governing the safe operation of autonomous vehicles on public roads.”
Detractors of the bill argued that self-driving cars currently on the roads have not significantly contributed to serious accidents compared to those driven by people. Businesses maintained that self-driving trucks would enhance product transportation efficiency.
Governor Newsom’s veto of the bill requiring human drivers in self-driving trucks has sparked controversy and disappointment among union leaders and truck drivers. The battle between technology, employment, and safety continues in California as the state strives to strike a balance between automation and human involvement in the transportation industry.
Future of Self-Driving Vehicles in California
Union leaders and drivers in California are disappointed after Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that aimed to address concerns about safety and job loss to automation in the truck driving industry. The bill had received significant support from lawmakers and was seen as a crucial step towards navigating the potential risks of self-driving vehicles. However, Governor Newsom faced pressure from his administration not to sign the bill, as it could potentially drive self-driving technology companies out of state.
The veto decision comes at a time when the debate over autonomous vehicles is gaining momentum. In San Francisco, two robotaxi companies have recently gained approval to operate within the city around the clock. This further highlights the need for careful consideration of the implications of autonomous technology on various industries.
Last week, a rally was held in Sacramento, where hundreds of truck drivers, union leaders, and other supporters of the bill gathered at the state Capitol. The participants fervently chanted “sign that bill” while semi-trucks lined up along the street in front of the Capitol. This demonstration showcases the deep-rooted concerns within the trucking community, as there are approximately 200,000 commercial truck drivers in California alone.
Although hopes for immediate legislative action may have been dashed, the discussions surrounding self-driving vehicles and related policies are far from over. As technology continues to evolve, it becomes increasingly crucial to find a balance between innovation and protecting job security for workers in various industries.