California Governor vetoes bill that would have required human safety operator in autonomous semi trucks

Califronia Governor Gavin Newsom has vetoed Assembly Bill 316, which aimed to require autonomous semi trucks to have a trained human safety operator whenever they operate on public roads within the state. The bill was passed last week by the Senate in an overwhelming 36-2 vote, but it still required approval from the Governor before it could become law.

As for the reason he declined to sign it into law, Governor Newsom argued that the bill was “unnecessary for the regulation and oversight of heavy-duty autonomous vehicle technology.” He emphasized that the existing regulatory framework, which grants the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) authority over autonomous vehicles in the state, is “sufficient.” (via Reuters)

According to Newsom, the DMV collaborates with various agencies, including the state highway patrol and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), to establish laws that ensure the safety of autonomous vehicles.

The governor also highlighted that the DMV actively seeks input from “interested stakeholders” to formulate future regulations related to driverless vehicles. He promised a transparent and public rulemaking process that would involve subject matter experts and stakeholders while soliciting public comments.

The Teamsters union, which had championed the bill, expressed disappointment over Newsom’s veto. Teamsters President Sean O’Brien argued that the bill’s passage would have safeguarded jobs and communities, claiming that vetoing it gives a “green light to put these dangerous rigs on the road.”

Governor Newsom acknowledged concerns about the impact of technology on employment and pledged to work with the Labor and Workforce Department to explore ways to mitigate potential job losses resulting from self-driving trucks.

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