Coalition Urges Lawmakers to Prioritize Safety, Oppose House Bill 1095
Press Contact: Matt McQuaid Phone: (202) 624-6877 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
(SIOUX FALLS, S.D.) – Teamsters Local 120 and the South Dakota Peace Officers Association (SDPOA) condemn House Bill 1095, legislation that would allow autonomous vehicles (AVs) to operate on South Dakota roads without a human operator behind the wheel. The bill passed out of the state’s House Energy and Commerce Committee earlier this week.
“Driverless technology is not ready for primetime. Allowing these dangerous vehicles to operate on our roads without a human operator behind the wheel is madness,” said Tom Erickson, Teamsters Central Region International Vice President and President of Local 120. “This bill was written by California tech companies that want to use public roads as lab rats, regardless of the safety risks or impact on working class jobs. Our careers should not be test subjects for Silicon Valley.”
James Heeren, Local 120 Business Agent, is a former police officer who currently represents other union members in law enforcement. Heeren testified at the hearing on HB 1095 to sound the alarm on the impact driverless cars and trucks could have on emergency response, noting that in San Francisco, AVs have blocked police from responding to the scene of a shooting, crashed into a firetruck, obstructed ambulances, caused massive traffic jams, and dragged a woman for 20 feet after striking her.
“As someone who has had to respond to emergencies more times than I can even count, I can tell you that every second matters. Oftentimes it’s the difference between life and death,” Heeren said. “This is especially true in our state, where response times are longer — particularly in rural communities, where our police and fire departments don’t have nearly the same level of resources as big coastal cities.”
Heeren also raised concern about a provision in the bill that takes away power from municipalities.
“Parents deserve to have a say in whether or not 80,000-pound trucks can speed by their child’s school or playground without a driver in the cab,” Heeren said. “This bill prevents that from happening by restricting the laws municipalities can pass to govern AVs. It takes power away from the people and puts it in the hands of bureaucrats.”
“As active and retired law enforcement personnel in South Dakota, we believe that House Bill 1095 will make our roadways significantly more dangerous and make it more difficult for first responders to do our jobs protecting the public,” said David H. Miller, President of the SDPOA, in a letter to lawmakers. “We have watched closely as driverless cars have hit the roads in cities across the country, and we have been alarmed by what we have seen. We urge our lawmakers to consider the public safety risk associated with autonomous vehicles and vote against House Bill 1095.”
Founded in 1903, Teamsters Local 120 represents over 12,000 workers at over 300 employers in four states: Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota. For more information, go to https://www.teamsterslocal120.org/.