Electric vehicle, New trucks, News

Bill blocked to have truckies aboard autonomous trucks. Thousands of jobs at risk, says union

California’s governor has quashed a bill to require truckies on board self-driving trucks.

The vetoed legislation would have banned self-driving trucks weighing more than 4.5 tonnes from operating on public roads unless a human driver is on board.

Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, head of the California Labour Federation, said driverless trucks are dangerous and called the decision by Governor Gavin Newsom to veto the bill shocking. She estimates that removing drivers would cost a quarter million jobs in the state.

“We will not sit by as bureaucrats side with tech companies, trading our safety and jobs for increased corporate profits. We will continue to fight to make sure that robots do not replace human drivers and that technology is not used to destroy good jobs,” Fletcher said in a statement last week.

A veto by the governor can still be overturned if the legislature chooses to vote in favour of the bill with a two-thirds majority in each house. This, however, is rare and has not happened in California since 1979.

Newsom said he vetoed the bill because the law is “unnecessary,” due to California already has two agencies, the Department of Motor Vehicles and the state Highway Patrol, overseeing and creating regulations for the new technology. State agencies are in the midst of creating specific rules for heavy-duty autonomous vehicles, including trucks.

Newsom’s veto won’t change much in the short term, add other reports, because while state rules are still in development, driverless trucks are not permitted to test on public roads in California. Newsom wrote in his letter that draft regulations “are expected to be released for public comment in the coming months.”

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