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DOT Automation Policy Fails to Address Important Worker and Safety Issues

By TTD

Washington, DC — Larry I. Willis, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issues this statement following the release of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Automated Vehicles 3.0 policy on October 4, 2018:

“With the release of the Automated Vehicles 3.0 policy, we see leaders in Washington once again charging toward an automated future without pausing to adequately consider the long-term impacts on American workers or safety.

“In the newly revised policy, the Administration is aggressively laying a regulatory framework for the rapid deployment of automated transit, commercial vehicles, and port infrastructure.

“Let’s be clear: There are nearly 170,000 transit and intercity bus operators around the country who stand to be displaced by these technologies, many of whom are late in their careers and may not easily find other good, middle-class jobs. This is in addition to 3.5 million truck drivers, thousands of port workers, and other transportation professionals who may also be displaced by automation. And yet, this revised policy rushes to embrace this new, unproven technology without taking necessary steps to protect workers in these sectors and to mitigate the economic displacement that could follow.

“While the Administration’s proposed multi-agency analysis of the employment and workforce impacts of automated vehicles is a welcomed first step, it is simply that: a first step. We also find it troubling that there is no mention of a role for labor in evaluating and developing job impacts, transition, and training.

“What’s more, this policy expects that driverless vehicles will eliminate human error and therefore improve safety and reduce road deaths. While advances in technology are made every day, we have seen too many instances where advanced and driverless technologies have not worked as intended, resulting in accidents – some fatal. Companies have pulled back, altered, or altogether cancelled their autonomous testing programs. The public is also closely watching. Early this year, 67 percent of those responding to a recent poll indicated they ‘were uncomfortable with the idea of riding in self-driving cars.’

“Our country simply cannot afford to put the cart before the horse when it comes to America’s workforce or the safety of our communities. We urge the Administration and Congress to carefully consider policies around automation and to better engage frontline transportation workers in their decisions.”

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