Indiana Teamsters Testify at Autonomous Vehicle Hearing, Call on Lawmakers to Take Action

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Senate Bill 57 and House Bill 1022 Critical for Economic Prosperity and Motorist Safety

(INDIANAPOLIIS) – This week, Teamsters testified in favor of House Bill 1022 in the Indiana General Assembly’s Roads and Transportation Committee. HB 1022 and its companion bill in the upper chamber, Senate Bill 57, would protect middle-class jobs and motorist safety by requiring human operators in driverless trucks.

“We’d like to thank Representative Cindy Ledbetter, for authoring this bill, the committee chair Representative Jim Pressel for holding a hearing on this bill, and our Teamster brother Senator Jim Tomes for authoring the companion legislation in the Senate,” said Chuck Whobrey, President of Teamsters Local 215 and Vice President of Teamsters Joint Council 94. “We’re now calling for a vote on HB 1022 and reiterating our demand that Senate Homeland Security and Transportation Chairman Mike Crider hold a hearing for SB 57.”

“This is critical legislation that has the support of not only us, but law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, and other public safety professionals,” said Harvey Jackson, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 142. “It has the support of the general public as well. Polling from last year demonstrated that voters from both parties aren’t comfortable sharing the road with autonomous vehicles and driverless trucks. We want a human operator behind the wheel.”

“Total wages for the trucking industry exceeded $11 billion in 2021. That’s money that went towards state and local taxes, small businesses, charities, and household income throughout Indiana,” said Michael Kuntz, a Local 135 member at UPS. “Losing these jobs wouldn’t just be bad for package car drivers like me. It would have a ripple effect throughout the economy, negatively affecting the finances of both private and public sector entities in Indiana.”

Local 135 member William Honey made headlines in 2019 when he saved the lives of his coworkers by using his truck to block a driver in a high-speed police chase. Honey called on the assembly to vote in favor of HB 1022 because of how unsafe driverless trucks are.

“There were no fatalities that night, but if there wasn’t a human operator in that dump truck, things could’ve easily gone a different way,” Honey said. “That’s just one example out of millions of possible scenarios that you might face as a truck driver, none of which a driverless vehicle is capable of dealing with. Automated systems do not have the ability to adapt to real-time situations like inclement weather or unexpected obstacles on the road.”

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.3 million hardworking people in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Visit Teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at Facebook.com/teamsters.

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