Two states looking to ban driverless autonomous trucks

Updated Jan 15, 2024

Trucking news and briefs for Friday, Jan. 12, 2024:

New York, Indiana propose driverless truck bans

Lawmakers in Indiana and New York have introduced legislation that would effectively ban driverless trucks in their respective states.

New York State Senator Pete Harckham introduced legislation that would require a trained human operator be physically present in any autonomous vehicle weighing 10,000 pounds or more on New York roads.

In Indiana, nearly identical bills were introduced in both chambers of the state’s congress that would require a human operator to be physically present in an autonomous truck.

similar bill was passed last year in California but vetoed by Governor Gavin Newsom

Speaking out against the bill was the CEO of an association representing autonomous vehicle makers and others, while the Teamsters union has championed such bills, seeing the regulations as protecting truck driving jobs. New York alone, the union said, is responsible for 270,000 transportation jobs, including about 58,300 current heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers.

"The integral role of the trucking industry in our lives means we have to be proactive and vigilant about public safety and job security when it comes to technological innovations like autonomous operating vehicles," said Sen. Harckham of the New York bill. "This common-sense measure will ensure greater protection for residents and property while providing job security for over 270,000 New Yorkers. I am thankful to Louis Picani and Teamsters everywhere for supporting this legislation."

Said Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association CEO Jeff Farrah, “S. 7758 will impose a premature and permanent ban on autonomous trucks in New York. AVs and truck drivers will work together to support New York’s rising freight demand and the supply chain’s manufacturers, farmers, and small businesses. The AV industry strongly opposes S. 7758, and we urge lawmakers to not move forward with this legislation, just like several states already have."

[Related: Calif. guv vetoes driverless-truck-ban legislation]

I-87 closure set for this weekend

The New York State Thruway Authority has announced that work to remove a portion of the damaged Brookside Road overpass on the Thruway (I-87) in New Paltz has been rescheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13.

The northbound lanes of the Thruway from exit 17 in Newburgh to exit 18 in New Paltz will fully shut down to all traffic for at least 12 hours so contractors can safely remove the overpass over the northbound lanes.

The Plattekill service area will close at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 13, and remain closed during this operation. Drivers should seek alternate routes while this work takes place or avoid travel in the area during these times, if possible.

The work was originally scheduled to occur last weekend (Jan. 6-7) but was postponed due to a snowstorm.

Closed to traffic since May, the Brookside Road overpass was hit by over-height vehicles nine times in 2023 and 27 times since 2019. These repeated collisions have resulted in considerable damage to the steel that supports the overpass and decreased the amount of weight it can safely carry. Following regular monitoring and multiple inspections, Thruway and consulting engineers have determined the overpass should be removed in the interest of public safety.

[Related: Canadian carrier shut down in B.C. after repeated bridge-strike crashes]

Service area reopens on I-90 in New York

Another service area on I-90 in New York has been remodeled and is once again open.

The New York State Thruway Authority recently announced the new Oneida Service Area (I-90 eastbound at mile marker 244) in Westmoreland is now open to the public. The location is the 13th new service area to open to Thruway customers as part of the $450 million private investment to redevelop and modernize all 27 Thruway service areas.

The Schuyler, Seneca, Pembroke, New Baltimore, Clarence, Ardsley, Plattekill, Clifton Springs, Iroquois, Indian Castle, Chittenango and Junius Ponds Service Areas have all reopened.