Bipartisan Bill Requiring Trained Human Operator Out of Communications and Conveyance Committee; Bill to Advance to Assembly Appropriations Committee
Press Contact: Matt McQuaid Phone: (202) 624-6877 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) – California Assembly Bill 316 (AB 316), a Teamster-supported, bipartisan bill that would require a trained human operator in autonomous vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds, overwhelmingly passed the California Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee on Wednesday with strong bipartisan support. It now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
The bill, first introduced in January, is authored by California Assembly Members Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), Asm. Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), Asm. Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), and Asm. Ash Kalra (D-San Jose). AB 316 will advance to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for its next vote.
“I was simply horrified to present my bill in a California Legislative hearing and have to listen to the representative of the Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association imply that our Nation’s, and our State’s, professional and skilled truckers are dangerous, drunk and texting drivers who pose a deathly risk to the public,” said Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters). “The callous disregard for these stewards of our highways and freeways, motivated by profit, is simply appalling. My motivation, on the other hand, is my commitment to Californians’ safety on the roads, and that safety is best protected by keeping well-trained human beings in the cab of 80,000 pound vehicles traveling at high speeds. When this industry proves to me, my colleagues, and our constituents that human-less trucking, and driverless school buses, are safer than our model in California, they will have the support to proceed.”
AB 316 is strongly supported by the Teamsters Union and the California Labor Federation. California 2024 Senate candidates Reps. Katie Porter (D-47), Adam Schiff (D-30), and Barbara Lee (D-13), as well as San Francisco Mayor London Breed, also recently announced their support for AB 316.
The general public has significant safety concerns about autonomous vehicles. This trepidation is rooted, in no small part, by continued reports of crashes and traffic delays caused by autonomous vehicles. According to a 2023 American Automobile Association (AAA) study, in the last year, Americans have become more afraid of driving alongside autonomous vehicles. Earlier this month, a poll of Texas voters showed that more than 70 percent were uncomfortable sharing the road with driverless trucks.
“AB 316 is common sense legislation that, in addition to keeping our roads safe, would protect thousands of good-paying jobs in California. Being a Teamster truck driver, I’m able to provide for my family with my pay and take care of my sick wife thanks to our unmatched health benefits,” said Mike Fry, professional truck driver of 27 years and member of Teamsters Local 2785. “Tech companies say that more autonomous vehicles mean more jobs, but it’s hard to believe that when the industry is leading the way in mass layoffs. We saw what happened in manufacturing, where more jobs were lost to automation than outsourcing. Let me be clear: I’m not against technology, but I am against tech giants putting it before human lives and wellbeing.”
As the California legislature considers AB 316, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is considering a regulatory framework that would allow for autonomous vehicles over 10,000 pounds to hit the road, possibly within one year, without consent from the state legislature. It is highly irregular and undemocratic for such a sweeping public policy change to be implemented by the DMV.
“AB 316 is gaining widespread bipartisan support because safety and jobs are issues that all Californians care about,” said Jason Rabinowitz, Teamsters Joint Council 7 President. “This is common sense legislation to everyone except the tech companies and their allies in Sacramento advocating against it.”
“The Teamsters are grateful to Asm. Aguiar-Curry for her leadership on this bill and support for our members’ safety and good union jobs,” said Randy Cammack, Teamsters Joint Council 42 President. “It’s time other elected leaders in California follow her lead and put their constituents ahead of Silicon Valley greed.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.2 million hardworking people in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Visit teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at facebook.com/teamsters.