The Teamsters cited the chaos these autonomous vehicles have already caused on crowded city streets.    -  IMAGE: Pixabay

The Teamsters cited the chaos these autonomous vehicles have already caused on crowded city streets.  

IMAGE: Pixabay

The Teamsters called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to reject a petition by General Motors and its autonomous vehicle subsidiary, Cruise, to exempt the system from Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for an autonomous vehicle.

The requested exemption is for the Cruise Origin, a fully self-driving vehicle that has no pedals, steering wheel or other manual controls.

“It is dangerous for other motorists, for pedestrians, and for middle-class jobs for Cruise to make a request like this from NHTSA,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien in a press release. “We already have too many examples of the chaos these vehicles cause in our communities. To allow this company to expand its fleet to put even more ‘advanced’ driverless cars on the road would be catastrophic for everyone.”

The Teamsters' concerns stem from safety issues involving Cruise, including alleged instances in which the vehicles:

  • Collided with fire trucks, resulting in the death of a pedestrian in San Francisco,
  • Blocked waste trucks and got stuck in concrete, preventing union members from doing their jobs

Besides safety concerns, the company also has said it plans to eliminate jobs in the supply chain, reported the Teamster release. The CEO of Cruise has revealed plans to replace human drivers in cities and use Origin for package deliveries, though the Teamsters say the company has presented no strategy showing it's prepared to be a significant player in the logistics sector, the release noted.

The Teamsters told NHTSA that GM/Cruise has not provided enough information about its proposed package-delivery service, including how it will operate and how safety concerns will be addressed.

“Given fundamental questions raised concerning the safety record of the petitioner, and ongoing failures to detail components of the Origin’s operations, at this time we do not believe that GM/Cruise can operate a FMVSS-exempted vehicle at the level of safety standards required by federal law and regulation,” the Teamsters wrote.

NHTSA's consideration of the application is limited because of the lack of federal safety guidelines for autonomous vehicles, including technology-specific regulations, the Teamsters say. The Teamsters' Autonomous Vehicle Federal Policy Principles urges NHTSA to establish fresh regulations that address self-driving vehicles’ technology performance and compliance requirements.

 

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