Bill takes aim at driverless semitrucks
State Sen. Pete Harckham stood with leaders from the Teamsters Local 456 on Friday to call for the passage of his new bill that would require a driver to accompany autonomous big rig trucks on New York highways.
"We need to set the foundation now because we know how rapidly technology advances," said Sen. Harckham.
The legislation comes as driverless big rig technology is being developed and tested.
The technology is already being deployed in states like Texas, where driverless trucks are already being utilized to transport goods.
Right now, the trucks do have an operator, but those freight trucks are expected to go driverless by years end.
"All this is, is profit over people," said Louis Picani, of Teamsters Local 456.
Sen. Harckham and bill supporters argue the new technology threatens the livelihood of 58,000 New York tractor-trailer drivers.
They also argue the new technology can't account for issues that may pop up on the road.
"If I'm going down a road and chain loosens up and I got an excavator on the back is that computer going to be able to get out and tighten that chain?" says tractor-trailer driver Vincent Galante .
A similar bill was vetoed by California's governor last year.
Currently, there are no state laws requiring a human be present in semitrucks.
The bill, S. 7758, would require autonomous vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds have a licensed driver behind the wheel.