EXCLUSIVE: Support Growing for Bill Seeking to Stop Job Losses to Self-Driving Trucks

Jefferson City, MO – A newly filed bill in the Missouri State House of Representatives which would require a driver to be behind-the-wheel at all times during the operation of autonomous trucks while on state roads is gaining support.

Transportation Nation Network (TNN) was the first to report in January of this year, Missouri State Representative Mike Moon (R-Ash Grove) introduced House Bill 2059.

If passed into law, the bill would amend current state law to require a licensed driver to be present and in the driver’s seat at all times while an “automated motor vehicle” is operating in “automatic mode.”

 

The text of the legislation reads:

No automated motor vehicle shall be operated in automatic mode on a highway or street in this state unless a person is present in the vehicle who: (1) Is licensed to operate a motor vehicle in this country; (2) Is trained in the operation of the automated motor vehicle; and (3) Has the ability to monitor the automated motor vehicle’s performance and immediately take control of the vehicle’s movements if necessary.

Any person determined to be in violation of the law would face a fine of up to $1,000.

Picking Up Support

Since the bill’s introduction, it has been picking up support within the trucking community.

In recent weeks, the Owner Operator Independent Driver’s Association (OOIDA) endorsed the legislation.

According to a report by Landline, Mike Matousek, OOIDA manager of government affairs, expressed his concerns about the rapid deployment of automated vehicles in trucking.

“There are hundreds – or even thousands – of concerns that need to be addressed before a driverless vehicle of any size should be allowed to operate on public highways,” he said. “Requiring a trained person to be present in an automated motor vehicle – both passenger and commercial motor vehicles – that is operating in ‘automatic mode’ is a relatively simple solution.”

 

OOIDA says it has approximately “7,800 members who reside in the Show-Me State, and thousands more that access state roadways daily.”

Most recently endorsing the bill is the 15,000-member Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC).

President of the SBTC, James Lamb, tells TNN, “We applaud Rep. Moon’s vision geared toward saving truckers’ jobs. We hope this bill passes and spreads to other states. While we support advances in technology to assist America’s truck drivers to improve safety, we will not allow allow them to become obsolete through false narratives under the guise of public safety.”


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Lamb says he shares concerns among many truckers that big business interests colluding with governmental leaders will lead to the loss of truck driving jobs on a massive scale and jeopardize safety in the process.

“It appears the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) bureaucrats are prepared to decimate truckers’ jobs and bring on a real life ‘Judgment Day’ in which public safety is at the whim of artificial intelligence and machines,” he said.

 

Other trucking groups including Boots on the Ground and Black Smoke Matters are also supporting the measure at this time.

Bill Bogar is a leader of Truckers for Missouri and has been instrumental in the development and advocacy of H.B. 2059.

He says he is grateful for the support.

“I’d like to thank OOIDA, SBTC and all of those supporting this bill,” Bogar said. “I look forward to them helping in future lobbying events.”

Missouri Trucking Association Taking A Wait-And-See Approach

The Missouri Trucking Association has not yet taken a position on the bill and is waiting to evaluate it further if/when the bill gets a committee hearing.

President of the MTA, Tom Crawford, tells TNN, “I think this is something that is jumping ahead of technology. The future is still unknown out there. I see the point Rep. Moon is trying to make, but the technology is continuing to improve and evolve.”


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Crawford said many of his members are adopting Automated Driving Systems (ADS) into their fleets and would not support legislative efforts that could “chill” further development of these safety systems.

 

Further, he echoed concerns addressed in a recent report released by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) entitled, Redefining the Role of Government Activities in Automated Trucking.

ATRI warned that the current patchwork of state laws “will hinder” the deployment of autonomous trucks specifically “in interstate trucking where the potential is highest for highly automated technologies to handle operations on long stretches of interstate.”

A hearing has yet to be scheduled on Rep. Moon’s bill.

TNN will continue to follow this developing story.

 


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