Washington, DC – The Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) and nearly 2 dozen other unions are calling on the federal government to crack down on dangerous RoboTaxis and the companies that are testing these driverless vehicles on city streets, often without oversight or regulation.
In a letter sent today to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Acting National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator Ann Carlson, the unions urge the federal government to expand their ongoing investigation into General Motor’s autonomous vehicle division, Cruise, to include Waymo, Zoox and other Autonomous vehicle operators. The NHTSA investigation was launched last month after a Cruise vehicle dragged a pedestrian down a street in San Francisco.
The unions also want NHTSA to subject driverless vehicles to stricter federal regulations and oversight—action that the Transport Workers Union of American (TWU) has long called for.
“Driverless vehicles are a menace to society. These untested, unproven robots block traffic, hinder first responders and emergency services, and harm pedestrians and other road users—with tragic consequences,” said TWU International President John Samuelsen. “The TWU has long warned about these dangers. Today, we join dozens of unions and their members to once again call on lawmakers and the federal government to investigate driverless technologies and the tech companies responsible for them, and to lay down hard, fast rules for how and when we allow these machines to operate on our streets.”
Some of the unions represent workers who have experienced and seen the dangers posed by AV technology firsthand and are concerned about its proliferation across the country, including construction workers, firefighters, bus operators and traffic enforcement agents. Citing the experiences of workers whose safety-sensitive and public service duties have been hindered by unproven, untested driverless vehicles, the labor leaders are calling for an end to the state-by-state patchwork of regulations currently governing these machines, which they say amount to little more than a lawless wild west for driverless robots.
“The federal government has provided very little oversight of any of these companies and the result has been a steep decline in safety everywhere these vehicles operate. The ongoing problems created by these vehicles offer a stunning glimpse into the challenges that are inherent both to automated driving system technology and the real-time testing of this technology on our streets without rigorous federal oversight,” the labor leaders write.