Drivers, teamsters want to put brakes on use of automated trucks in CA

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Saturday, July 15, 2023
Workers want to put brakes on use of automated trucks in CA
Truck drivers and teamsters want to put brakes on the testing and deployment of automated trucks in California.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Dozens of truck drivers and teamsters rallied in San Francisco Friday.

They are concerned about the possibility that self-driving trucks could soon be on California roads, and they want to put the brakes on the testing and deployment of self-driving vehicles.

Today's rally comes days after the CPUC delayed a vote on the unlimited expansion of Cruise and Waymo robotaxis throughout San Francisco.

Truck drivers and teamsters rallied on the steps of San Francisco City Hall Friday morning -- angry about automated vehicles.

MORE: CPUC delays vote on expanding autonomous cars in San Francisco

The California Public Utilities Commission delayed the vote on expanding autonomous vehicles in San Francisco.

The San Francisco police and fire departments have criticized the self-driving cars for blocking emergency crews.

Demonstrators today said they're also worried about the possibility of driverless trucks and big rigs coming to the Golden State.

"There have been other situations where they have driven right into a fire scene. So there is no way we should be having a discussion about trucks or larger vehicles," said Mayor London Breed.

After the rally, demonstrators marched to a public DMV workshop regarding the testing and deployment of self-driving vehicles.

MORE: Journalist documents wild ride inside Waymo self-driving car in SF

"We talked about a lot of things today -- mainly the need to have a safety driver in the vehicle and what are the requirements for a safety driver," said Bernard Soriano, deputy director of Policy of the state DMV.

Self-driving big rigs are being tested in states like Texas and Arizona but not California.

Recently, the California State Assembly passed Assembly Bill 316.

It requires autonomous big rigs, semi-trucks, and vehicles over 10,000 pounds to have a trained human operator in the vehicle.

MORE: SFFD chief is fed up with robotaxis interfering with firefighters on the job

Veteran truck drivers, like Mike Di Bene who's been driving for nearly three decades, support the bill.

"My concern is AI won't be able to account for things that a human can. I've got years of experience. I know to look down the road a mile to see potential hazards," said a truck driver and member of Local70. "80,000 pounds driving headlong unmanned terrifies me."

The Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association includes Cruise and Waymo. The association argues that artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles can drive more effectively than people and that autonomous vehicles could curb dangerous driving.

EXCLUSIVE: Video shows Cruise driverless car stalled on SF street for hours

"We have things like drunk driving, impaired driving, distracted driving. We have drowsy driving. So what autonomous drivers are doing is looking at the technology and the better way to operate these vehicles," said Jeff Farrah, the executive director of AVIA.

AB316 now heads to the State Senate for a vote.

The state utilities commission delayed a vote that would allow Cruise and Waymo self-driving cars to offer paid rides 24/7 all across San Francisco.

The CPUC is scheduled to vote on that matter Aug. 10.

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