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The bill would widen the number of manufacturers eligible for exemptions for testing and deployment purposes of selfdriving vehicles Photo Peterbilt Photo: Peterbilt
Peterbilt's autonomous truck

Mixed reaction to proposed driverless vehicle legislation

Teamsters concerned about job losses if autonomous trucks hit the road.

The approval by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce of a broad bill that would give the green light to autonomous vehicle usage on U.S. roads is drawing both praise and criticism from different interest groups.

H.R. 3388, the Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research in Vehicle Evolution or “SELF DRIVE” Act, would “ensure” that autonomous vehicles can make their way onto U.S. roads safely and quickly, according to the R Street Institute, a think tank based in Washington, D.C.

"The act achieves all three of our key goals for legislation of this kind and provides the regulatory certainty necessary for manufacturers to move forward with aggressive development and deployment schedules that could literally save lives," noted R Street Senior Fellow Ian Adams in a statement.

Those “three goals” are: federal supremacy over design, safety and performance standards; a meaningful role for the states in matters of licensing, registration, insurance and liability; and expansions both in the number of exemptions available from Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and in the breadth of manufacturers that would be eligible for exemptions for testing and deployment purposes.

However, James P. Hoffa, general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, noted in a statement that “much work remains to be done” with numerous issues that must be addressed – especially in terms of potential job losses should human truck drivers end up being replaced by driverless truck technology.

"It is vital that Congress ensure that any new technology is used to make transportation safer and more effective, not used to put workers at risk on the job or destroy livelihoods and chip away at the middle class," he stressed.

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