EXCLUSIVE: Trucking Group Drives “Clever” Bill to Combat Job Losses to Driverless Trucks

Jefferson City, MO – As more and more state legislatures pass laws making it easier to speed the deployment of autonomous trucks, a group of Missouri truckers is backing a new bill which would require a driver to be behind-the-wheel at all times.

Last week, Missouri State Representative Mike Moon (R-Ash Grove) introduced House Bill 2059, which 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.

 

While H.B. 2059 would have a significant impact on the consumer market for automated passenger vehicles, a trucking group warning of the dangers of autonomous trucks is strongly supporting the bill.

Golden City, MO-trucker Bill Bogar is a leader of Truckers for Missouri.

The group is actively engaging with legislators, the motoring public and truckers in an effort to sound the alarm for what Bogar says could be a “devastation of millions of jobs” across the country.

“We are facing annihilation,” Bogar told TNN last year. “Autonomous trucks are right on top of us right now.”

In August of 2019 Truckers for Missouri held a rally inside the capitol rotunda in Jefferson City to voice its concerns.

In a brand new interview with TNN, Bogar says state legislatures racing to ease restrictions on driverless trucks are doing so at the peril of the motoring public and truckers.

“It’s very dangerous to have an 80,000 pound machine operated by a computer. Computers go down,” he declared.

 

Bogar, an owner operator of 20 years, pointed to his own experience operating a level 3 (L3) autonomous truck.

“They [automated driving systems] are dangerous especially on wet or snow covered roads,” he says.

Further, he described numerous occasions where he says his truck’s front sensors were “comprised with snow, ice, or dirt” which led to “collision warnings when nothing was in front of me.”

He says it could have cost him his life or the lives of motorists traveling around him.

“The truck is going to act on its own and that’s going to be dangerous and lead to wrecks.”


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Truckers for Missouri members met with Rep. Moon last year leading to the state legislator crafting H.B. 2059.

Bogar says the bill is “clever” in the way it is written because it “puts the driver in the seat of the truck and not in the back making a sandwich,” while allowing for the “technology to grow.”

“Everybody likes technology and we don’t want to stop that. Autonomous features are still allowed and I think legislators are going to like that part,” he says.

 

However, he argues the time is now for truckers to join together on this issue because he believes corporate “greed” seeks to make truck drivers “expendable.”

“They are trying with everything they can to take the driver out of the truck and give them a monopoly on the market. The money they are throwing at is unbelievable.”

As for H.B. 2059, Bogar says it is a first step, but an important one.

He is asking all those who share his concerns to contact Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr (R-Springfield) and “ask him to keep the bill moving forward.”

A hearing on the bill has yet to be scheduled.

Click HERE for Speaker Haahr’s contact information.
Click HERE to read H.B. 2059.
Click HERE to monitor the legislative progress of H.B. 2059.
Photo courtesy of TuSimple

 


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