Senate To Hold Hearing On Self-Driving Trucks

Next week, the U.S. Senate will be holding a hearing to explore the benefits and roadblocks that automated driving technology will bring to trucking.

The hearing, titled “Transportation Innovation: Automated Trucks and our Nation’s Highways“, is slated for 10 a.m. on Wednesday, September 13.

Senate To Consider Benefits, Drawbacks, Of Self-Driving Trucks

During that meeting, lawmakers say that they will weigh the safety benefits of self-driving commercial vehicle technology with the impact that the widespread use of that technology would have on the job market and on the economy.

The ATA’s President Chris Spear will be in attendance at the hearing, along with Navistar CEO Troy Clarke, National Safety Council CEO Deborah Hersman, and Colorado State Patrol Colonel Scott G. Hernandez. Spear has spoken out in favor of autonomous vehicle technology for trucks, noting that “If properly developed, it has the potential to dramatically improve safety and reduce congestion. This technology has the potential to get trucks moving, reduce fuel burn and emissions, and increase miles driving – all measurable returns to companies – and drivers.”

The meeting comes on the heels of a major victory for self-driving technology in the House of Representatives. On September 7, the House unanimously approved legislation meant to speed up the implementation of autonomous vehicle technology in passenger vehicles. That legislation did not include commercial vehicles. Lawmakers say that a dramatic spike in road deaths — which were up by 7.7% in 2015 — has spurred them to act quickly to clear a path for self driving vehicles.

According to Senator John Thune, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, “Self-driving technology for trucks and other large vehicles has emerged as a pivotal issue in Congress’ attempt to help usher in a new era of transportation. This hearing will offer all members of the Commerce Committee the opportunity to hear expert testimony on the future highway safety benefits of applying automated technology to trucks as well as perspectives on excluding trucks from legislation affecting passenger cars.

You’ll be able to watch live video of the hearing at onwww.commerce.senate.gov.