California Moves to Limit Autonomous Trucks

A bill passed by the State Assembly and moving on to the Senate would require autonomous semi trucks to have a trained human operator in the vehicle.

1 minute read

June 2, 2023, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

According to an article by Maggie Angst in The Sacramento Bee, “California assembly members on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to pass Assembly Bill 316, a proposal with bipartisan support to require a trained individual to sit behind the wheel of autonomous semitrucks and big rigs.”

Angst explains, “Current state law, established by the DMV, allows testing and deployment of driverless light-duty autonomous vehicles that weigh 10,000 pounds or less — stopping short of allowing the same for long-haul trucks and big rigs with autonomous capabilities.”

The bill’s author, Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters, said “we need to make sure that the roads are safe for the sake of our constituents and that jobs are safe for our truck drivers.” The bill is supported by truck drivers, who fear the loss of jobs to autonomous vehicles. “Supporters say the regulation would help protect people traveling on California roadways and support the livelihoods of truck drivers across the state.” 

The move was criticized by industry leaders, who say the state should wait for federal guidance before deploying its own regulations on self-driving trucks. “Permitting the testing and deployment of autonomous trucks in California would help eliminate human errors, such as texting and driving and distraction, that contribute to traffic fatalities,” said Mufaddal Ezzy, senior director of state public affairs for software company Aurora.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023 in The Sacramento Bee

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