WASHINGTON — The American Trucking Associations (ATA) President and CEO Chris Spear on Sept. 12 told the House of Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that automated vehicle technology has excellent potential to enhance road safety, be an economic productivity booster and support trucking’s essential workforce.
To realize the technology’s full potential, however, Spear emphasized that regulations must be consistent to avoid a patchwork of rules that will treat highway users differently.
“What’s needed first is a national framework that encourages development, testing, and deployment of technology in direct support of interstate commerce,” Spear said in a Sept. 12 hearing before the panel’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. “Federal guidance should treat commercial and passenger vehicles equally and require automated vehicles to achieve an acceptable level of safety and performance, rather than requiring the use of specific technologies.”
Spear noted that the hearing fells during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, which celebrates of the nation’s 3.5 million professional drivers. He said the week highlights how automated vehicle technology can coexist with truck drivers and actually make their jobs easier while reducing persistent shortages that have long impacted the industry.
There’s plenty of room for innovation to help fill this gap without displacing drivers,” Spear said. “To the contrary, we see this technology as improving the essential job of truck driving by making it safer, more productive, and less stressful. We believe it is vital to attracting the next generation of talent into the profession.”
In addition, Spear said that “securing cargo and ensuring that the movement of hazardous materials, livestock and produce, in extreme weather conditions particularly, are factors that will undoubtedly require a driver, superseding the values of automation.”
Spear underscored the importance of continuing to develop domestically sourced chips and software to maintain the United States’ leadership in innovation as well as prevent cybersecurity threats.
Click here to read Spears’ entire statement to the House.
Also on Sept. 12, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters released a statement outlining the union’s proposed framework for automated vehicle use.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.