Bipartisan Legislation Advances to State Senate, Bill Requires Human Operator for AVs Weighing Over 10,000 Pounds
SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 31, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — California Assembly Bill 316 (AB 316), a Teamster-supported bill that would require a trained human operator in autonomous vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds, overwhelmingly passed the California State Assembly today with strong bipartisan support. It now heads to the State Senate.
Assembly passage of AB316 comes as the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is considering a regulatory framework that would allow for autonomous vehicles (AV) over 10,000 pounds to hit the road, possibly by 2024, without consent from the legislature. It is undemocratic for such a sweeping public policy change to be implemented by the DMV.
AB316 will keep California roads safe and protect good-paying jobs. The bill, first introduced in January, is authored by California Assembly Members Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), Asm. Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), Asm. Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), and Asm. Ash Kalra (D-San Jose).
“I am thrilled that over 60 of my Assembly colleagues supported AB 316 on the floor today. This joint effort with the Teamsters and Labor Federation will slow the profit-motivated drive to human-less trucking by putting the Legislature between venture capital, well-paid jobs and public safety,” said Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters). “We will continue to fight to protect our expert trucking workforce. We will continue to fight to protect the traveling public. The road ahead will not be easy and we’ll need every working Californian to join the fight to have this bill become law this year.”
“California highways are an unpredictable place, but as a Teamster truck driver of 13 years, I’m trained to expect the unexpected. I know how to look out for people texting while driving, potholes in the middle of the road, and folks on the side of the highway with a flat tire. We can’t trust new technology to pick up on those things,” said Fernando Reyes, Commercial Driver and Teamsters Local 350 member. “My truck weighs well over 10,000 pounds. The thought of it barreling down the highway with no driver behind the wheel is a terrifying thought, and it isn’t safe. AB 316 is the only way forward for California.”
Reports of AV crashes and AV-related deaths have become increasingly common, with passenger vehicles weighing far less than a heavy-duty truck. Given these serious reports, it is no surprise that the general public has become increasingly fearful and skeptical of automated vehicles. A March 2023 study from the American Automobile Association (AAA) found that nearly 70 percent of Americans are afraid of fully self-driving cars, a significant increase from previous years. Similarly, in April 2023, more than 70 percent of Texas residents reported that they would be scared to share the road with a driverless semi-truck or tractor-trailer.
AB 316 is strongly supported by the Teamsters Union and the California Labor Federation. California 2024 Senate candidates Reps. Katie Porter (D-47), Adam Schiff (D-30), and Barbara Lee (D-13), as well as San Francisco Mayor London Breed, have also announced their support for AB 316.
“We need AB 316 to pass because we can’t trust big tech companies to look out for the best interest of Californians,” said Randy Cammack, President of Teamsters Joint Council 42. “Not a single one of these AV companies have demonstrated that they have a safe product, are committed to retraining workers displaced by automation, or that they will create more middle class jobs than they destroy. These companies are against AB 316 because they’re looking out for their bottom line, and workers need elected officials to look out for theirs.”
“AB 316 continues to secure strong bipartisan support because safety and good jobs are not partisan issues; these are the fundamentals that all Californians care about,” said Jason Rabinowitz, President of Teamsters Joint Council 7. “Today’s vote is a critical win for AB 316, and we look forward to continuing to work with our state’s electeds across both sides of the aisle to ensure this bill is a legislative priority for our State Senate. We will be paying close attention to who is with us and against us on this bill.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.2 million hardworking people in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Visit Teamster.org to learn more. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at Facebook.com/teamsters.
Sean Nesmith, (678) 467-4306
Matthew McQuaid, (202) 624-6877
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SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters