Automated vehicles to be focus of House T&I hearing

January 28, 2022

Mark Schremmer


The future of automated vehicles is a much discussed and debated topic.

Next week, the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will conduct a hearing about what that future may look like.

A hearing titled “The Road Ahead for Automated Vehicles” is scheduled for 11 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, Feb. 2. The hearing will be streamed live at the T&I website. The names of those testifying had not been released by the afternoon of Friday, Jan. 28.

Although the push for automated vehicles remains strong, there also has been considerable pushback.

Last April, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said that any process to advance automated technology should be met with mandatory data transparency from manufacturers.

“NHTSA must employ standards that ensure safety performance above all else,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer wrote. “Given the fact that there have already been a number of crashes involving (automated driving system) failures on our nation’s roads, (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) must develop standards that are based on documented research and testing data. The continued reliance on voluntary safety reporting from (automated driving system) manufacturers will not effectively build trust, acceptance, and confidence in testing and deployment of these systems.”

Former FMCSA acting Administrator Meera Joshi also discussed the need for transparency and accountability when talking with the OOIDA Board of Directors in November.

Joshi admitted that the headlines associated with autonomous trucking are that they will be safer but noted that the “risks are great and real.”

She said the agency’s regulatory agenda includes a rulemaking regarding autonomous trucking.

“There has to be accountability,” Joshi said. “There must be proven plans and requirements to how they will respond to law enforcement. There has to be the … spontaneous ability for law enforcement to interfere – something they can do today with a truck driven by a human. Those are real concerns and real points of conflict between government and industry.”

In March 2020, the CBS News program “60 Minutes” broadcast a segment on driverless trucks. OOIDA Board Member Linda Allen was interviewed in the segment and provided her concerns on automation.

“There are too many things that can go wrong,” Allen said during the segment. “I was on I-75 last month. There was a bad accident, and the state trooper came out and started hand-signaling vehicles, ‘You go here. You go there.’ How’s an autonomous truck going to recognize what an officer wants you to do? How’s that going to work?” LL