A California bill requiring driverless trucks to have a human operator present has been reintroduced in the state assembly, after Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a similar bill last year.
Assembly Bill 2286, proposed by Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, mandates that manufacturers of autonomous vehicles report collisions involving vehicles weighing over 10,001lb within 10 days. It also requires these manufacturers to submit information annually on instances where autonomous mode was deactivated during testing on public roads.
AB 2286 would prohibit the operation of autonomous vehicles weighing over 10,001lb on public roads without a human safety operator present. This bill mirrors last year’s AB 316, which sought to mandate the inclusion of drivers in autonomous trucks. Despite bipartisan support and approval from the assembly and senate, Governor Newsom vetoed AB 316, with the autonomous vehicle industry and Silicon Valley viewed as a key influence on his decision.
Following the veto, California has seen a surge in backlash against autonomous vehicles, particularly after high-profile accidents involving robotaxis. These incidents led to Cruise suspending operations in San Francisco, while California agencies have initiated lawsuits against several robotaxi companies.
In response to growing concerns, Assemblywoman Aguiar-Curry and the [US labor union] Teamsters have reintroduced the AV trucking bill, with increased bipartisan support. The bill addresses safety concerns and aims to preserve union jobs by requiring safety drivers in AV trucks weighing over 10,000lb.
Despite opposition from AV manufacturers, who argue that banning autonomous trucks is unnecessary and that both truck drivers and autonomous trucks can coexist, the fate of AB 2286 rests on Governor Newsom’s decision.
The Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association issued the following statement from chief executive officer Jeff Farrah on California AB 2286: “The autonomous vehicle industry agrees with Governor Gavin Newsom who concluded just a few months ago that a ban on autonomous trucks in California is ‘unnecessary.’
“California’s expert safety regulators and law enforcement officials oversee the safe deployment of AVs and consider appropriate regulatory action. AB 2286 is particularly disappointing considering Governor Newsom has directed the Labor and Workforce Development Agency to lead a process on workforce matters and autonomous heavy-duty vehicles.
“Let’s be clear: California needs truck drivers and autonomous trucks, and both will thrive together in the future.”