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Unions Urge DOT to Halt Trump Admin’s Automated Vehicles Plan

Two prominent labour unions in the U.S. want the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to reject the former Trump administration’s automated vehicle (AV) strategy.

The unions claim the plan relies too much on the viewpoint from industry without enough attention paid to “potential damage to worker safety and jobs,” reports FreightWaves.

The  Automated Vehicles Comprehensive Plan (AVCP), one of the last documents released for public comment by DOT under former Secretary Elaine Chao, laid out the previous administration’s vision for integrating AVs – both cars and heavy trucks – into the U.S. transportation system.

The plan received 23 comments before the comment period closed on Tuesday, with trucking technology companies generally supporting the strategy and organized labour rejecting it, reports FreightWaves.

“This document … fails to offer a single proposal on workforce training and transition strategies and leaves frontline transportation workers to fend for themselves. We have every confidence that the Biden administration  … will carefully consider job impacts and workforce training and readiness as you ferret out policy choices around emerging transportation automation technologies. A reboot is needed.”

Concern over the rollout of automated technology is becoming more prominent as the federal government publishes more information on the potential effects on truck driver jobs and as Congress begins hearings on zero-emission infrastructure strategies, which can overlap with automation.

The plan states that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will host a series of sessions with automated driving system (ADS) equipped commercial motor vehicle (CMV) developers, truck manufacturers, motor carriers, industry associations and other groups to further develop industry-based standards for trucks that eventually will be operated without a driver.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) supports DOT’s plan in that it recognizes the need for a “flexible framework” for both passenger and commercial vehicles, emphasizing equal priority for both.

“ATA emphasizes that DOT should include trucking use cases when developing rulemakings and considering standards,” said Ross Froat, the ATA director of technology and engineering policy, adding it also should consider regulatory issues relevant to CMV systems, ADS components and overall safety. “Commercial vehicle freight delivery plays an integral role in the development of AV technology – one that should be given as much priority as ADS applications in passenger vehicles.”

President Joe Biden has in the past repeatedly expressed his vision to be one of the most pro-organized labour presidents in history.

Full FreightWaves story here.

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