Gov. Gavin Newsom has blocked a bill that would have required trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds (4,536kg) to have human safety drivers on board while operating on public roads. The governor that the legislation, which California Senate members passed in a 36-2 vote, was unnecessary. Newsom believes existing laws are sufficient to ensure there’s an “appropriate regulatory framework.”
The governor noted that, under a 2012 law, the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles collaborates with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, California Highway Patrol and other relevant bodies “to determine the regulations necessary for the safe operation of autonomous vehicles on public roads.” Newsom added that the DMV is committed to making sure rules keep up with the pace of evolving autonomous vehicle tech. “DMV continuously monitors the testing and operations of autonomous vehicles on California roads and has the authority to suspend or revoke permits as necessary to protect the public’s safety,” his veto message reads.
Newsom, who has a reputation for being friendly to the tech industry, reportedly faced pressure within his administration not to sign the bill. The state’s Office of Business and Economic Development warned that the proposed law would lead to companies that are working on self-driving tech to move out of California.
On the other hand, as the notes, California Labor Federation head Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher estimates that not requiring human drivers in trucks would cost around 250,000 jobs. “We will not sit by as bureaucrats side with tech companies, trading our safety and jobs for increased corporate profits,” Fletcher, who called autonomous trucks dangerous, said in a statement. “We will continue to fight to make sure that robots do not replace human drivers and that technology is not used to destroy good jobs.”