Union cheers as trucks kept out of U.S.
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[July 29, 2017]
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Teamsters union
on Friday praised House lawmakers for keeping self-driving commercial
trucks out of a proposed bill aimed at speeding deployment of the
advanced technology for cars.
The U.S. House Energy and Committee on Thursday unanimously approved a
bill that would hasten the use of self-driving cars without human
controls and bar states from blocking autonomous vehicles. The measure
only applies to vehicles under 10,000 pounds and not large commercial
The 1.4-million-member union, hoping to protect the jobs of truck
drivers, has been lobbying at the federal and state levels to slow
legislation to make it easier for companies to roll out self-driving
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has said she is "very concerned"
about the impact of self-driving cars on U.S. jobs, a big part of
President Donald Trump's campaign message.
"It is vital that Congress ensure that any new technology is used to
make transportation safer and more effective, not used to put workers at
risk on the job or destroy livelihoods," Teamsters President James P.
Hoffa said in a statement, adding the union wants more changes in the
Teamsters officials have been involved in talks with Senate aides,
seeking to exclude commercial trucks from a similar bill setting federal
regulations for autonomous vehicles, lobbyists said. The Senate proposal
has not been made public yet.
The House bill would allow automakers to obtain exemptions to deploy up
to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the
first year, a cap that would rise to 100,000 vehicles annually over
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Auto industry leaders have said 3 million commercial truck jobs
could eventually be at risk if self-driving vehicles replaced human
Alphabet Inc's self-driving car unit Waymo is working on developing
self-driving trucks, the company said last month.
Other companies have also been working on self-driving trucks. Ride
services company Uber Technologies [UBER.UL] is working on
autonomous trucking through its Otto unit, which it acquired last
Tesla Inc, which is working on self-driving technologies, plans to
unveil a commercial truck called the Tesla Semi in September.
The Teamsters have opposed efforts by states to approve plans by
logistics companies to use platooning technology that could reduce
driver jobs by allowing a pack of trucks to be digitally connected
and driven in formation.
Missouri Governor Eric Greitens approved a revised platooning
measure this year that requires a driver in the cab of each truck.
His predecessor Jay Nixon vetoed platoon testing last year.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by David Gregorio)
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