Teamsters Fight for Highway Safety, Jobs


New Poll Finds Pennsylvania Residents Fearful of Autonomous Vehicles

Teamsters lead in the fight for safety and good jobs, and that battle is currently taking place in Pennsylvania, where the legislature is considering allowing autonomous vehicles without human drivers to operate on state roads.

The legislation, SB 965/HB 2398, would establish a framework for companies to operate autonomous vehicles without human oversight, and was recently passed by the State House of Representatives and is currently being considered in the State Senate.

The Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters is adamantly opposed to the legislation and is leading efforts to make sure the bill doesn’t leave workers and public safety behind. The Conference is pushing for changes to the bill — most visibly, the inclusion of a human safety operator.

Pennsylvanians, like most Americans, are deeply concerned about the impact autonomous vehicles will have on highway safety and jobs.

A recent poll shows that voters are overwhelmingly uncomfortable sharing the road with driverless vehicles and support the presence of a human safety operator physically in all autonomous vehicles.

As reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the poll shows that 64 percent of Pennsylvania voters are either “very” or “somewhat” uncomfortable sharing the road with “automated, driverless vehicles,” with 58 percent saying they would be more comfortable with a human safety operator physically present in the vehicle. The poll finds that voter comfort level decreases as the size of vehicles increase, with up to 83 percent of voters uncomfortable sharing the road with driverless semi-trucks/tractor trailers.

The poll also shows that 84 percent of voters have concerns about autonomous vehicles being a threat to public safety and 74 percent believe that autonomous vehicles are a threat to replacing workers’ jobs.

“This poll shows what Pennsylvania Teamsters have been saying all along — the voting public is uncomfortable with this issue and unaware of how quickly the General Assembly is approaching it,” said William Hamilton, President of the Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters. “Pennsylvania Teamsters have made it clear that we will talk in good faith to any elected official from any political party about ideas on how changing technologies can make the jobs of the future safer for the public and for workers, but we will not accept eliminating all human oversight in commercial vehicles.”

When it comes to voters’ attitudes toward elected officials, voters were 57 percent less likely to support a politician if they knew that the politician supported allowing autonomous vehicles on Pennsylvania roads. Conversely, voters were 60 percent more likely to support a politician who supported a human operator requirement in autonomous vehicles.

“The autonomous vehicle industry is spending billions of dollars to destroy good jobs, not to lobby for new technologies,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien. “These vehicles are dangerous, unproven, and unpopular. Worse yet, the corporations producing them are intent on taking human drivers off the road and making millions of jobs obsolete. America’s roads and highways are for public use, commerce, and real drivers — not unsafe corporate experiments fueled by greed.”