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Bill seeks to ban self-driving semis without a human on board from New York roadways

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A bill recently introduced in the New York State Senate would ban self-driving semis without a human on board from operating on public roadways throughout the state.

New York State Senator Pete Harckham announced the new legislation (S.7758) on January 5, 2024.

The bill would require a qualified human operator to be on board on any autonomous vehicle weighing 10,000 pounds or more on New York State roads.

“The integral role of the trucking industry in our lives means we have to be proactive and vigilant about public safety and job security when it comes to technological innovations like autonomous operating vehicles,” said Harckham. “My bill simply requires autonomous vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or more to have a licensed driver behind the wheel. This common-sense measure will ensure greater protection for residents and property while providing job security for over 270,000 New Yorkers.”

The bill is strongly supported by the Teamsters, who say that it will protect jobs and make New York roads safer.

 Louis A. Picani, president and principal officer of Teamsters Local 456, said, “Senator Harckham’s bill would not only protect the livelihood of people being impacted by vehicles without a human operator, but it would also protect every person traveling in and out of the State of New York, including pedestrians and tourists, as these unmanned trucks are lethal weapons.”

“Allowing vehicles to be driven without a human operator could allow for possible cyber-attacks, which pose an immediate threat to those who are sharing the roads with these vehicles,” said Picani. “When a human operator is present, these potentially harmful errors become easily preventable.”

Similar legislation banning autonomous trucks without a human operator on board was also introduced this month in Indiana.

A driverless truck ban bill was introduced in California last year. Despite support from highway safety groups and Teamsters, the bill was vetoed California Governor Gavin Newsom.

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