26 Labor Organizations Tell U.S. DOT and NHTSA to Immediately End the Operation of Autonomous Vehicles on American Roads

By B.N. Frank

All autonomous vehicles (AVs) have been plagued with serious problems (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) not just GM Cruise robotaxis which were recently banned in California (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).  Perhaps because of the ban (and the bad publicity), GM decided to pause Cruise robotaxi operations in 3 other cities and then pause production altogether.  26 American labor organizations say that’s not enough.

From Smart Cities Dive:

 ‘End the unsafe operation’ of autonomous vehicles, union leaders tell US DOT

Federal oversight and more investigations into AV companies are urgently needed as robotaxis wreak chaos in public spaces, said 26 labor unions in a Wednesday letter.

Dan Zukowski Reporter

On Nov. 8, 26 labor organizations asked the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in a six-page letter to “take immediate action” to “end the unsafe operation of [automated driving system]-equipped vehicles on our roads.”

Greg Regan, president of the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, told Smart Cities Dive that there is a need for federal leadership “as opposed to a patchwork of state and local laws” governing autonomous vehicles. Labor leaders also asked the DOT to update the department’s automated vehicle policy and to “reject the Trump Administration’s hands-off approach to regulating automated vehicles.”

In 2021, NHTSA ordered manufacturers and operators of vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance systems, such as lane-centering and adaptive cruise control, to report all crashes involving these technologies. The following year, NHTSA reported 367 collisions, including six fatalities, over a 10-month period.

The safety agency has also launched an investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot system and two separate investigations into Cruise’s self-driving vehicles, which have operated as robotaxis in San Francisco and other cities. Cruise, a General Motors subsidiary, suspended driverless operations across its entire fleet and recalled 950 robotaxis this week for a software update to its automated driving system following an incident where one of its vehicles struck and then dragged a pedestrian under the car for 20 feet before stopping.

“Unfortunately, this horrific tragedy is unsurprising, given the absence of safety regulations for autonomous vehicles,” said Cathy Chase, president at Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, in a statement. “It must serve as a blaring alarm to our nation’s policymakers to issue federal safety standards and enhance oversight of both operations and data. The safety of the traveling public always must come first and definitely before this rush-to-market approach.”

The San Francisco city attorney has accused robotaxis of creating safety hazards and interfering with first responders, and local transportation authorities have called out the driverless vehicles for obstructing traffic and transit service by making unexpected stops on city streets. Labor unions asked NHTSA to expand its investigations beyond Cruise to other AV manufacturers, such as Waymo and Zoox, and to amend the 2021 standing order for crash reporting to include any incident where an automated vehicle deviates from “expected performance,” such as connectivity issues and situations where vehicles cluster together or require intervention by a remote operator.

Activist Post reports regularly about autonomous vehicles (AVs) and other unsafe technologies.  For more information, visit our archives.

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