Congress holds AV truck listening to throughout Driver Appreciation Week

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WASHINGTON — American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear advised lawmakers Wednesday he’s prepared to look any truck driver within the eye and promise autonomous vans is not going to take their job.

Spear referred to as for a nationwide framework for the know-how, which he stated will assist bridge a present scarcity of about 78,000 drivers that might develop to 1.2 million within the subsequent decade, based on ATA estimates and projections.

“Displacement is a fantasy,” Spear advised a Home Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee. “And if we did not have a scarcity, we might be having a candid dialogue about folks shedding their jobs. That’s not the case right here. There is no information to help that. … There’s loads of room for innovation to play a task. We have to embrace it.”

The congressional listening to on autonomous vans befell throughout Nationwide Truck Driver Appreciation Week, prompting criticism from the Proprietor-Operator Unbiased Drivers Affiliation prematurely of the three.5-hour listening to. No drivers have been among the many 4 witnesses referred to as to testify.

Aurora Innovation co-founder and CEO Chris Urmson, Autonomous Car Business Affiliation Government Director Jeff Farrah, and Advocates for Freeway and Auto Security President Cathy Chase testified alongside Spear concerning the business’s progress and dealing with of security and different considerations.

Truck drivers’ ‘crucial’ function in AV growth

Urmson touted the 50 masses per week Aurora’s autonomous vans already haul on a pair of routes in Texas for FedEx, Schneider and others.

The AV truck tech developer has round 40 drivers on its payroll, and the corporate fashions its autonomous tech to study from them, the co-founder stated.

“Truck drivers are crucial to how we develop this know-how,” he stated. “It is vital to me they’re really workers of the corporate. They personal fairness within the firm, and because the firm is profitable, we anticipate them benefiting from that success.”

Exacerbating the rising difficulty of driver constraints within the coming years, Farrah famous, the Division of Protection initiatives U.S. freight quantity to develop by 50% by 2050.

“We imagine autonomous trucking is without doubt one of the options,” Farrah stated. “By serving to to maneuver extra freight, we will create extra alternatives for all, particularly jobs for truck drivers of their communities. Along with new financial alternatives, this may result in a greater high quality of life for our nation’s truck drivers.”

‘A kick within the tooth’ to truck drivers

OOIDA President Todd Spencer issued an announcement calling the choice to spotlight autonomous vans on per week devoted to truck drivers “a kick within the tooth to the hardworking women and men behind the wheel who maintain America’s provide chain operating day-after-day.”

“Mega carriers can hardly wait to exchange tens of millions of American truck driving jobs with autonomous vans with the intention to save a buck,” Spencer stated.

A number of of the witnesses within the listening to talked about the 43,000 folks killed on U.S. roads in 2021. The AV business representatives instructed autonomous trucking might assist scale back fatalities.

Chase described truck driving as one of many nation’s most harmful jobs.

Rigorous testing, efficient regulation setting, minimal efficiency requirements and business accountability — amongst different measures — have to be in place to make sure security as AV truck tech rolls out extra extensively, she stated.

“In different phrases, we have to know what’s occurring on our roads, and we have to make them protected,” Chase stated.

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