Californians are calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to sign California Assembly Bill 316 (AB 316), a proposed law that would require a trained human operator in autonomous vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds. The bill has gained strong bipartisan support among lawmakers in California, as well as the backing of over three-quarters of California voters.
At a rally in Los Angeles, Teamsters, elected officials, labor allies, and public safety leaders joined forces to advocate for the passage of AB 316. Teamster leaders delivered speeches emphasizing the potential dangers of small driverless vehicles, including accidents, collisions, and interference with public safety personnel. A member of Teamsters Local 396 pleaded with Governor Newsom to safeguard California jobs and streets by promptly signing the bill into law.
The Teamsters have organized a caravan of truck drivers who will travel to Sacramento, concluding with a rally and march at the State Capitol on September 19. The intention behind this visible presence is to encourage Governor Newsom to take action.
AB 316 was introduced in January by multiple Assemblymembers and has garnered broad, bipartisan support from elected officials and voters across California. Public polling indicates that the majority of Californians, regardless of political affiliation, gender, or location, are in favor of the bill. It is also evident from the poll that Californians feel uncomfortable sharing the road with driverless vehicles.
Concerns about safety have escalated in San Francisco as collisions and accidents involving self-driving vehicles persist. The recent approval of permits for autonomous vehicle companies Waymo and Cruise to expand their driverless operations in the city has sparked public outrage. One incident that raised alarm involved the blocking of an ambulance carrying a critically ill patient by two Cruise taxis on a one-way street.
Given the growing fear of job automation, the Teamsters, along with other advocates, are stressing the importance of prioritizing safety and protecting Californian jobs by enacting AB 316 into law.