Governor of California vetoes a bill to ban driverless AV trucks – Gov. Gavin Newsom of California vetoed a bill on Friday that would have mandated the presence of a human safety operator whenever a self-driving truck ran on state-owned roads.
The bill was passed by the California Senate in the middle of September, which is good news for the autonomous trucking industry. The bill basically forbade driverless autonomous heavy-duty trucks from performing the way they were designed to function.
“Assembly Bill 316 is unnecessary for the regulation and oversight of heavy-duty autonomous vehicle technology in California, as existing law provides sufficient authority to create the appropriate regulatory framework,” Newsom stated in his letter opposing the bill.
California has some of the harshest laws regarding autonomous vehicles in the US while being a battleground for robotaxi companies like Waymo and Cruise to develop and commercialize their technology.
In accordance with the guidelines established by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, businesses must go through numerous rounds of approvals in order to test and deploy throughout the state. Only light-duty trucks are currently permitted on public roadways.
The DMV has been debating whether to alter the state’s current limit on testing autonomous vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 pounds. The government convened a public discussion on the subject earlier this year, and as a result, California lawmakers released the AB 316 bill. The bill would have restricted the DMV’s ability to regulate AVs in the future; this authority has been in place since 2012.
The bill was initially presented by Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry in January. In order to protect Californian road users and guarantee truck drivers’ jobs, supporters of the law, notably the Teamsters Union, contended that the state should have more control over the withdrawal of safety drivers from self-driving trucks.
In a statement, Mike Di Bene, a Teamsters Local 70 member in Oakland, said:“I’m here today because Gavin Newsom has signaled his intent to turn his back on the safety of 39 million Californians and veto AB 316, not only putting every California driver in danger but opening Big Tech to eliminating hundreds of thousands of jobs,”
The plan, according to AV businesses, business leaders, and chambers of commerce, would not only prevent the development of technology that could save lives but also stifle supply-chain innovation and reduce California’s ability to compete globally.
In his letter, Newsom expressed his confidence in the DMV to constantly monitor the testing and use of AVs on Californian roads, suspending or revoking licenses as necessary to ensure the safety of the general public. Furthermore, he pledged to support career routes and train staff members in order to provide them with the knowledge and abilities necessary to interact with this new technology.
According to Newsom, he has ordered the Labor and Workforce Development Agency to oversee a stakeholder process the next year to examine and create recommendations to lessen the possible employment impact of AV trucks.
“Considering the longstanding commitment of my Administration to addressing the present and future challenges for work and workers in California, and the existing regulatory framework that presently and sufficiently governs this particular technology, this bill is not needed at this time. For these reasons, I cannot sign this bill.”