October 3, 2017 6:00 PM, EDT
ATA Chief Applauds Senators Supportive of Trucking Policy in Autonomous Bill
ATA President Chris Spear Spear by John Sommers II for Transport Topics

Efforts to include trucking-centric provisions in autonomous vehicle legislation that a committee will consider Oct. 4 were applauded by the top officer at American Trucking Associations.

In a letter to Sen. James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican and a senior Commerce Committee member, ATA President Chris Spear praised the senator and several of his Republican colleagues, such as Sens. Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Ted Cruz of Texas and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, for supporting policy language about trucks in legislation before the panel.

Trucking proponents are expected to propose amendments to self-driving vehicle legislation during its highly-anticipated markup, according to aides and people familiar with the bill. The legislation, sponsored by committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) and Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), does not include major truck provisions.

“It is simply inconceivable that this legislation would favor one type of vehicle over another, as both cars and trucks travel together every day on the same roads and bridges,” Spear wrote Inhofe on Oct. 3, in a letter obtained by Transport Topics. “While some committee members have expressed concern for the impact automated vehicles will have on jobs, this bill, and this technology for that matter, is not about driver displacement.”

Spear added, “This bill is about developing the technology that will bring about improvements in safety and productivity, and reductions in fuel burn, emissions and congestion.”

The legislation would seek to pave the way to allow self-driving cars on roadways, clarify oversight of the technology and require new federal safety standards.