Self-Driving Bill Rolls on Without Trucking Amendment
Despite the efforts of trucking industry officials, a recent self-driving bill leaves America’s commercial operators out of the discussion of autonomy – at least for now.
The bill aims to provide safety standards, oversight, and a framework for driverless vehicles. This will make it easier to test, observe, and refine the technology in a controlled manner. Unfortunately, trucking will have to wait to get similar consideration from officials.
The bill’s passing on October 4 drew a significant amount of coverage, both inside the trucking industry and out. Driverless cars are a futuristic, unnerving tech to some, and a welcomed marvel to others. But trucks represent a vital component of America’s freight economy. Leaving them out of the bill means this crucial industry could be hindered moving forward.
Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) lacked the necessary support for an amendment to change the bill. The update would’ve ensured trucking got a voice in the policies and procedures that will lead to the further development of autonomous vehicles.
While some may say that cars are more plentiful than trucks and thus deserve the nod when it comes to leading the way for legislation, the scope of affected trucks is greater than many realize. Trucks are used for deliveries, emergencies, disaster relief, and more – their effect on the economy is massive, even if it isn’t always recognized.
Some officials agreed with Inhofe’s stance that trucks should be included in the bill. Those in favor said that delaying this update would only lead to a longer wait for driverless trucks. Though these vehicles have drawn concerns about safety and job loss, they also offer great benefits from an economical perspective.
Driverless trucks could reach a point where they become as safe as piloted trucks, but this would require time and research to achieve. However, none of this can start until the industry gets its much-needed voice in crafting the rules of the road for driverless vehicles.
One of the biggest steps that will need to be taken is to implement new infrastructure that is compatible with the vehicles. If cars are considered first in line when it comes to making these upgrades, truckers could find themselves in a tough position.