Late last month, a pedestrian was killed by a self-driving Uber car. The immediate outcry for more strict vehicle safety was heard, especially in the trucking industry. With more companies, including Uber, now testing autonomous self-driving trucks on the open road, businesses, lawmakers, and union leaders are taking a much harder look at vehicle safety for the trucking industry.
Teamsters Take A Stand On Autonomous Vehicle Safety
Shortly after the tragic accident with an autonomous Uber car in Arizona, the Teamsters released a statement:
“The Teamsters Union continues to stress its concerns with the testing and implementation of self-driving technology after a ‘driverless’ Uber in autonomous mode struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, overnight.
Uber has since temporarily halted its driverless testing program in Arizona, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto. Last year, Uber suspended the same program after a crash in Arizona. Uber is just one among a number of tech and auto industry companies competing in the driverless vehicle market.
The safety of autonomous technology is not proven, and there are many unanswered questions about how ‘driverless’ technology is supposed to operate. More than 600,000 skilled Teamsters operate trucks and other vehicles and are among the safest drivers on the road. The Teamsters Union is deeply concerned with safety and the testing of vehicles in autonomous mode on public roads and highways. It is sad and unfortunate that a life was lost in this collision. Steps must be taken to avoid these situations in the future.
Driverless technology is still in a testing phase and there are enormous risks inherent to testing unproven technologies on public roads. It is critical that pedestrians and drivers are safeguarded.”
Ongoing Concerns About Driverless Technology
With a fatal accident involving one driverless vehicle, the trucking industry also needs to examine the future, and the role of autonomous trucks. While we often read about the fears about driverless trucks replacing human jobs the same way robots did in the 80s in the automotive industry, there is a much larger concern. By comparison, a driverless car is much lighter than a truck, and trucks certainly take up more space in a single lane. Those in favor of driverless vehicles with say that one death is low compared to the national average of vehicular fatalities. Those on the other side cite that one death is still too many. While The House in Washington passed self-driving legislation, everyone needs to focus more on vehicle safety.
As always, Express Freight Finance will keep readers up to date on the latest development surrounding driverless trucks.