California governor vetoes bill requiring human drivers in autonomous trucks

A huge relief to robo-trucks and those who love them.
By Chance Townsend  on 
California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks during the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting at the Hilton Midtown on September 18, 2023 in New York City
Credit: John Nacion via Getty

A California bill requiring autonomous heavy-duty robo-trucks to have human drivers was vetoed late Friday by state Governor Gavin Newsom. The bill, Assembly Bill 316, was a worker-backed bipartisan effort in the state to curb the number of fully autonomous trucks on the road, and to save jobs.

As reported by Reuters, Newsom's veto of the bill will come as a relief to companies like Aurora and Daimler Truck that are testing and developing driverless trucks to haul goods. The veto can overturned by the state legislature with a two-thirds vote but the last time this happened in California was in 1979, so the chances that it does are slim.

California is not the only state that allows for the testing and use of driverless trucks, but, as Reuters notes, it is among the few states that ban autonomous trucks over 10,000 pounds.

The Teamsters issued a press release in the hours before the veto. It contains a warning from one member named Mike Di Bene that a veto would mean Newsom had turned "his back on the safety of 39 million Californians," that it would put "every California driver in danger," and that it would open the door to Big Tech "eliminating hundreds of thousands of jobs."

"Assembly Bill 316 is unnecessary for the regulation and oversight of heavy-duty autonomous vehicle technology in California," Newsom wrote in his veto message Friday. "Existing law provides sufficient authority to create the appropriate regulatory framework."

The driverless car debate has heated up in the past few years in California and this recent veto will only add more fuel to the fire. Just last month, the California DMV asked tech companies to decrease the number of driverless cars on the road after two robocars crashed in San Francisco. This was just days after the city granted approval for the 24/7 operation of two robotaxi companies.

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Chance Townsend
Assistant Editor, General Assignments

Currently residing in Austin, Texas, Chance Townsend is an Assistant Editor at Mashable. He has a Master's in Journalism from the University of North Texas with the bulk of his research primarily focused on online communities, dating apps, and professional wrestling.

In his free time, he's an avid cook, loves to sleep, and "enjoys" watching the Lions and Pistons break his heart on a weekly basis. If you have any stories or recipes that might be of interest you can reach him by email at [email protected].


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