Self-driving debate: Teamsters want human drivers for heavy truck trips

In a heated battle over the handling of self-driving cars and trucks, unions have voiced strong concerns about the safety of implementing autonomous technology in heavy-duty trucks. 

On Friday, officials from the Department of Motor Vehicles are set to discuss regulations for self-driving trucks, raising questions about what this could mean for the state. The unions involved in the argument are hoping for strict regulations to address their safety concerns.

Members of the Teamsters and other union allies plan staged rally in front of San Francisco City Hall. 

Following the rally, they will march to the DMV office to participate in the workshop and voice their concerns. Their primary request is to have a human driver present during all trips for trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds. 

This demand comes as support for self-driving vehicles experienced a setback earlier this week when the state's Public Utilities Commission postponed a vote to expand Waymo and Cruise services in the city for the second time.

Despite these setbacks, companies such as Waymo and Cruise, along with their supporters, continue to emphasize the safety of autonomous vehicles on the roadways. 

According to Billy Riggs, a professor of transportation innovation at the University of San Francisco, these companies have undergone a lengthy process of regulatory approval from the CA DMV and the CA PUC. 

Riggs points out that their performance levels have surpassed what humans can achieve, demonstrating the capability of these autonomous vehicles to drive more safely.

Led by the Teamsters, efforts have been made to push for strict regulations to be enshrined in the law. A bill requiring the presence of a person in self-driving heavy-duty trucks has recently cleared the state's Senate Transportation Committee. This bill has garnered support from lawmakers and even received the backing of Mayor London Breed.

The fate of Waymo and Cruise will be determined by the state's upcoming vote in August.