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Bill would outlaw the operation of self-driving trucks without a human driver on board in California

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Legislation recently introduced in California would forbid the operation of self-driving trucks unless a human safety driver is inside the vehicle.

AB 316 was introduced in the California Legislature on January 23, 2023, by Assembly Member Cecilia Aguiar-Curry.

While California law currently allows for the testing and operation of autonomous vehicles weighing under 10,000 pounds without a human driver physically inside the vehicle, the California Department of Motor Vehicles is currently considering new rules to allow the testing of medium and heavy-duty commercial vehicles without a human driver present.

AB 316 would address this by “prohibit[ing] the operation of an autonomous vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of 10,000 pounds or more on public roads for testing purposes, transporting goods, or transporting passengers without a human safety operator physically present in the autonomous vehicle at the time of operation.”

The bill has the support of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the California Labor Federation, who argue that autonomous vehicle technology threatens the livelihood of thousands of workers.

Other supporters of AB 316 have voiced highway safety concerns.

Aguiar-Curry told the Los Angeles Times that she believes that self-driving truck technology is decades away from being road-ready: “There may be a time, 30 or 40 years from now — and I won’t be around to see it — where hopefully that they might be able to do that. This isn’t the time to do it. It’s all about timing.”

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