For the first time in our history, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters is releasing an “Autonomous Vehicle Federal Policy Principles” framework, a guiding document for federal policymakers as they continue to address issues surrounding autonomous vehicles (AVs).
As a union that represents hundreds of thousands of workers who turn a key for a living, and the only union substantially representing commercial truck drivers, the Teamsters have a deep interest in the outcome of federal AV regulation and legislation. This includes consideration of safety and workforce impacts to our members, the millions of other Americans who operate a vehicle for their livelihoods, and the public, who are increasingly asked to share the road with AVs.
Federal laws and regulations that do not meaningfully address the operations and effects of AVs will result in catastrophic impacts on American workers and risk increasing preventable roadside fatalities. The Teamsters are committed to working with Congress and federal regulators on a path forward that prioritizes both workers and safety. On behalf of our members and the American people, we strongly urge the adoption of the proposals contained within the International Brotherhood of Teamsters’ “Autonomous Vehicle Federal Policy Principles.”
Regulating the Vehicle
The Federal government has authority over vehicle manufacturing and performance standards and must apply these authorities to AVs. Legislation should mandate:
- Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) address the design, construction, and performance of highly automated vehicles and automated driving systems (instead of regulating by waiver).
- This must include object and event detection and response, how a vehicle responds when its tech fails, how a vehicle interacts with an operator, and what a vehicle does post-accident (including interaction with law enforcement).
- New FMVSS should differentiate between types of AVs – a one size fits all approach for automated light duty passenger vehicles, transit buses, and 26,000 lb. trucks is not appropriate.
- FMVSS for commercial motor vehicles must preserve the traditional operating equipment for a human driver.
- A new FMVSS must standardize components of Heads-Up-Display modules.
- Standards for AV testing, and prohibitions on AVs from being sold until safety requirements are satisfied.
- Including public disclosure of approval for testing and sale.
- Requirements for the Operational Design Domain (ODD) of an automated vehicle, prohibiting an autonomous system from operating in an ODD for which it has not been approved.
- Installation of data recorders on all autonomous vehicles that records performance information that could be made available to DOT and/or National Transportation Safety Board, with attendant protections against using data to discipline a human operator.
- Required reporting on incidents involving AVs, as per National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Standing General Order 2021–01.
- Reporting should also include any incidents of re-engagement by the human operator, and data must also be made publicly available.
- The requirement of manufacturers to inform consumers of the capabilities and limitations of highly automated vehicles and partially-automated vehicles, including any changes to such capabilities and limitations that may result from software updates to such vehicles, as well as clear information on when over-the-air updates occur.
- Rulemaking on cybersecurity, including protections against unlicensed/unauthorized access to wireless technology.
- New standards applicable to AVs for the vehicle inspections required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), including roadside and pre-trip inspections.
- Prohibition on the procurement of transit bus models that have not been approved by DOT via the Bus Testing Program.
Regulating the Operator
FMCSA regulates the driver of commercial vehicles, and the circumstances and safety conditions in which they operate. In this regard, Congress should require that:
- A human operator must remain in all AVs, regardless of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) automation level.
- A human operator of an AV must remain subject to DOT Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) requirements, hours of service limitations, and all other protections that affix to non-autonomous CDL drivers.
The DOT and FMCSA possess numerous regulatory authorities related to both the safe operations of vehicles and the ability of carriers to receive authority to begin and continue operations. Existing regulation does not differentiate between traditional and autonomous vehicles in this regard, and must therefore be amended to provide meaningful insight into the safety of new autonomous operations, including requiring that:
- Safety and Fitness Electronic Records listings include the amount of SAE Level Four and Five vehicles in use at any particular carrier; Compliance, Safety, Accountability Safety Ratings specifically and explicitly rate the safety performance of any AVs in a fleet.
- FMCSA have the ability to revoke operating authority for the use of AVs by any operator at its discretion due to safety issues.
- Incident data involving an AV be separately categorized within Motor Carrier Management Information System reporting.
- FMCSA’s National Consumer Complaint database explicitly solicits complaints concerning AVs.
- Carriers wishing to deploy AVs report where they are in use, and in what function.
- Any application for operating authority using an AV be made available for public review.
- Fully automated driver-out operations are not permissible for the carriage of hazardous materials.
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.
- Any state or local laws, regulations or other requirements that conflict with or provide lesser protections than the provisions and requirements in these principles shall yield to these provisions and shall be superseded by the provisions herein. However, state or local regulations requiring greater protections such as (but not limited to) requiring: a) additional human operators and monitors b) greater licensing standards; c) greater insurance requirements; d) greater restrictions on locations and times for the use of autonomous vehicles shall not be preempted provided they are not inconsistent with the purpose of maximizing public safety and protecting and preserving human control and supervision over autonomous vehicles.
- Liability for accidents involving AVs should be properly assigned to liable parties – such as the vehicle manufacturer or automated system manufacturer where appropriate.
Congress cannot entertain any legislative package dealing with AVs that does not directly and forcefully address issues related to the workforce, and any changing operational or economic conditions that occur as the result of AV commercialization. This should include:
- Creating a wage replacement program for workers who are displaced, modeled on Trade Adjustment Assistance.
- Creating grant programs for impacted workers, including training on new technologies for individuals whose job functions may change (such as mechanics) as well as reskilling for workers who are displaced.
- Requiring any recipient of federal funding or holder of FMCSA operating authority, or recipient of federal transit funding to publicly disclose the planned use of AVs and its expected workforce impacts, and that this information must separately be delivered to any impacted collective bargaining unit.
- The conditioning of DOT grants on responsibilities to employees impacted by automation include the creation of 13(c)-like protections that preserve collective bargaining rights, where such protections do not currently exist.
- That the DOT, Dept. of Labor, and other relevant agencies study the economic impacts of vehicle automation on issues beyond driver displacement, including impacts of lost tax revenue and impacts to supply chain-connected businesses like rest stops.