US truckers urge Congress to support automated vehicle development

American Trucking Associations (ATA), the largest US trade association for the trucking industry, has called on Congress to support the development of automated vehicles. 

ATA believes the world of automated vehicles will still have an important role for drivers
— ATA President and CEO Chris Spear

In testimony to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, ATA President and CEO Chris Spear spoke about the need to include commercial vehicles in the discussion around automated vehicles.

“I hope my testimony will help unwind some of the myths about automation and our industry, and will demonstrate why trucking needs to be at the table as the roadmap for automated vehicles is being written,” said Spear.

The industry body does not expect increased automation to change the fact that more than 3.5 million professional truck drivers move over 70% of the goods delivered each year in the US, said Spear.

“ATA believes the world of automated vehicles will still have an important role for drivers,” he said.

“Just as pilots play a key role in our airline industry, truck drivers will do the same on the ground by leveraging the benefits of automated technology while navigating the cityscapes and handling the customer pickups and deliveries.”

The role played by trucking in the supply chain also meant that commercial vehicles should be included alongside passenger vehicles as the framework for automated vehicle oversight is developed, said Spear.

“We are at a critical moment in the development of autonomous technology,” he said. “There are many questions to be answered – including those about cybersecurity, about the impact on trucking operations and how vehicles will interact with one another, and about infrastructure. What is clear is that those questions should be answered for commercial and passenger vehicles at the same time.”