Lawmakers Warn About Automation

For years we’ve talked about how machines are going to take over and everybody will be out of a job. Well, this hasn’t exactly happened yet. However, a U.S. Congressional committee who’s in charge of funding federal transportation programs is asking regulators to create a “national strategy” that will address drivers who are bumped from their jobs by self-driving cars.

A recent report that articulated the priorities laid out in a first draft of the transportation funding bill for 2020, the House Appropriations Committee expressed worry that the U.S. Department of Transportation wasn’t adequately getting ready for the issues that will emerge from automation. In particular, they noted their concern for drivers who will be displaced.

Here’s what the report said. “While the Committee recognizes the vast potential of automated vehicles, the Committee is concerned that this technological transformation may displace workers who currently earn their living driving a vehicle. The Committee encourages DOT to consider the potential for job displacement and urges DOT to convene relevant public and private stakeholders to develop a national strategy to address the issue.”

The report did note that $18.5 million has been allocated to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to pursue research on automation and related issues.

The report also made mention of the fact the NHTSA did not provide enough oversight on the safety issues related to AV technology. “The Committee supports performance-based minimum standards for AVS and directs NHTSA to collaborate with {DOT’s] Office of the Secretary to ensure AVs are safe for occupants, other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.”

The Push for Automation

President Trump and his administration have highlighted automation in transportation as a key goal. Its AV 3.0 iniative sets out to make regulations more manageable and to encourage technology investment.

Several senators, including David Price of North Carolina, approved the concept of the initiative but argue that it must be paired with a re-energized commitment to safety from DOT, state and local organizations, as well as the industry itself. Officials maintain the emphasis for safety is necessary as automation begins to take hold on our roads.

What do you think? Do we need to do more to prepare the trucking industry for the rise of automation?

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