OOIDA backs Missouri bill prohibiting driverless trucks

February 17, 2020

Keith Goble

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A Missouri state lawmaker wants to prohibit driverless truck operations from using roadways around the state.

Sponsored by Rep. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, the bill would require a trained person to be present in an autonomous vehicle.

Specifically, the legislation would forbid vehicles from being operated in automatic mode on a highway or street unless a licensed, trained person is present in the vehicle who has the ability to monitor the vehicle’s performance and take control of the vehicle if necessary.

Moon’s bill, HB2059, awaits assignment to committee.

OOIDA backs driverless truck bill

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association supports the legislation introduced by Rep. Moon. The Association representing small-business truckers and professional drivers touts nearly 7,800 members who reside in the Show-Me State, and thousands more that access state roadways daily.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA manager of government affairs, said the rapid development of autonomous technology has a lot of potential. However, he points out it poses a lot of challenges as it relates to commercial vehicles and highway safety.

“There are hundreds – or even thousands – of concerns that need to be addressed before a driverless vehicle of any size should be allowed to operate on public highways,” Matousek wrote in communication with Moon.

“Requiring a trained person to be present in an automated motor vehicle – both passenger and commercial motor vehicles – that is operating in ‘automatic mode’ is a relatively simple solution.”

Matousek said the Association believes the requirement for a trained person to be present in the vehicle would mitigate “some of the many” safety concerns of truck drivers.

States remove barriers to autonomous trucks

States around the country have been active implementing new rules on the use of autonomous large vehicles, and other changes to accommodate driver-assistive truck platooning technology.

In recent years more than two dozen states have taken action to permit testing of autonomous trucks. The rule changes often require amendments to large vehicle following distance rules.

Advocates say truck platooning saves fuel due to reduced aerodynamic drag, lessen traffic congestion, and improve highway safety. Some supporters acknowledge it works best on relatively flat, divided highways outside of populated areas.

Critics question how automated vehicles and traditional vehicles will interact on roadways. Others doubt whether widespread use of the technology is realistic.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center reports that Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations are likely to get in the way of automated technology.

More Land Line coverage of news from Missouri is available.

Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.