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October 26, 2016 4:15 PM, EDT

ATA President Chris Spear: Congress Is Better Forum for Autonomous Technology Discussions

Spear by Jaclyn O'Laughlin

WASHINGTON — The trucking industry’s chief representative on Oct. 26 called on Congress to take the lead on policy decisions regarding self-driving commercial technology. His comments came days after an autonomous truck in Colorado demonstrated the first real-world application of such technology, an event many transportation observers deemed historic.

“As this regulatory framework begins to mature, transparency and inclusivity is key; have all the modes, all the agencies, all the players involved in it to make certain that you don’t create something that hinders innovation and interrupts interstate commerce and disrupts our economy and jobs,” American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear said. 

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Spear explained congressional hearings where policymakers have opportunities to press government officials and stakeholders would result in comprehensive rules for the industry. He expressed frustration that federal regulators did not engage his group in their development of guidelines for autonomous technology.

“This is a role I think the Hill is best positioned to do; be transparent, be inclusive,” he added. Spear was on a panel here hosted by Securing America’s Future Energy, an energy security advocate. 

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In September, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued guidelines for states looking to regulate autonomous vehicles. The agency requests that automakers submit safety assessments detailing how they would monitor cybersecurity and infrastructure recognition.

Proponents argue longhaul trucking is an ideal forum for the self-driving technology.