California Governor Rejects Bill Mandating Human Drivers for Autonomous Trucks
Governor Newsom's veto sparks debate over safety, jobs, and tech industry interests
In a decision that has ignited a contentious debate, California Governor Gavin Newsom has rejected a bill that aimed to require autonomous trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds (4,536kg) to operate with human safety drivers on public roads. The legislation, which had garnered significant support in the California Senate with a vote of 36-2, was met with Governor Newsom’s assertion that it was superfluous. He contended that the existing legal framework was sufficiently robust to ensure safety in autonomous trucking operations.
Underpinning Newsom’s decision is the belief that California’s regulatory apparatus, including the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and California Highway Patrol, possesses the requisite mechanisms to dictate the regulations needed for the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles on public roads. In his statement, Newsom emphasized the DMV’s commitment to staying abreast of the rapidly evolving autonomous vehicle technology landscape. Furthermore, he underscored the DMV’s authority to suspend or revoke permits as necessary to safeguard public safety, thanks to powers conferred by a 2012 law.