WASHINGTON — The International Brotherhood of Teamsters on Tuesday, Sept. 12, released a guiding document for federal policymakers that addresses the challenges of autonomous vehicles (AVs). The framework, Autonomous Vehicle Federal Policy Principles, arrives at a crucial time as accidents occur nationwide because of self-driving cars and trucks, a Teamsters press release stated.
“Hundreds of thousands of Teamsters turn a key for a living, so we are fiercely committed to working with Congress and federal regulators to get AV policy right,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien. “Strong federal AV policies must prioritize both workers and safety. Any legislation that puts workers and the general public at risk will be met with aggressive opposition by the Teamsters and our allies.”
The Teamsters have outlined five fundamental principles for Congress and federal regulators. The federal AV policy that they should follow protects workers and enforces safety standards, including:
- Regulating the vehicle: The federal government has authority over vehicle manufacturing and performance standards and must apply these authorities to self-driving cars and trucks.
- Regulating the operator: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the driver of commercial vehicles and the circumstances and safety conditions in which they operate.
- Regulating operations: The Dept. of Transportation and FMCSA possess numerous regulatory authorities related to the safe operations of vehicles and the ability of carriers to receive power to begin and continue operations.
- Interaction with other laws: Congress must consider issues that may arise from the relationship between existing law and the efforts to legislate and regulate AVs.
- Workforce impacts: Congress must refrain from entertaining any legislative package dealing with self-driving cars and trucks that do not directly and forcefully address issues related to the workforce and any changing operational or economic conditions resulting from AV commercialization.
“Congress must act as a potent appetite exists among lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to address issues with AVs,” the press release noted.
Later this week, the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit will hold a hearing to discuss self-driving trucks.
“On behalf of the 1.2 million Teamsters who either drive a truck or are expected to share the road with AVs, we strongly urge the adoption of these proposals. Lawmakers need to step up and get this done now,” O’Brien said.
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