WASHINGTON – Today, 27 labor organizations representing transportation workers urged federal transportation safety officials to immediately open investigations into Waymo, Zoox, and similar companies that operate robotaxis and other for-hire driverless vehicles. While Cruise issued a voluntary software recall yesterday for its 950 driverless vehicle fleet and has temporarily halted its driverless vehicle operations, other manufacturers continue to offer or test driverless vehicles in San Francisco, Phoenix, Austin, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. and its suburbs. A federal industry-wide investigation is necessary to determine the true extent of driverless vehicle safety failures that have resulted in unpredictable and dangerous operations, near-misses, accidents, injuries, and deaths.
The coalition also called for an expansion of federal crash reporting requirements to include any significant performance deviations, rather than just crashes involving driverless vehicles. The current requirements have not been updated in over two years and do not reflect a range of ongoing incidents that endanger workers, pedestrians, and all road users.
The letter warns: “As robotaxi and other ADS-equipped projects have expanded, workers have faced increasing safety threats on the job. Firefighters and police have been forced to jump out of the path of driverless taxis moving through emergency cordons. Bikeshare workers have been forced to dodge these vehicles abruptly stopping in bike lanes and crosswalks. Transit and sanitation workers have been boxed in, cut off, and trapped inside their vehicles by driverless cars driving erratically. Construction and maintenance workers, who stand in harm’s way every day on our roads, have seen driverless vehicles pull into construction sites. These safety issues are exacerbated by operational chaos as driverless cars are failing to use public roads in safe, predictable ways.”
Lastly, the coalition renewed their previous calls for a safety-focused federal automated vehicle framework in place of the state by-state patchwork of policies that has emerged in the absence of rigorous federal oversight. Given the recent surge in both the number of cities operating driverless vehicles on public streets and the number of accidents involving these vehicles, federal leadership is necessary to ensure they are being operated safely.
Signers of the letter include: Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD); Transport Workers Union of America (TWU); International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA); Sailors’ Union of the Pacific (SUP); International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART); SMART Transportation Division (SMART-TD); International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots (MM&P); Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA); Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS); Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA); International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE); Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU); American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME); International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF); Service Employees International Union (SEIU); United Auto Workers (UAW); Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU); American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE); International Association of Ironworkers (IW); American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA); International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT); International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT); Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET); Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA); Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes (BMWED); and Transportation Communications International Union (TCU).