- Iowa may be the latest state to throw its support behind new trucking technology if a new bill (H.F. 465) exempting truck platoons from following distance laws passes the state legislature.
- Currently, motor trucks must follow no closer than 300 feet behind another vehicle when driving on commercial or residential roads. The amendment would exempt platoons altogether.
- The state's Department of Transportation recently expressed support for such legislation, claiming it could improve transportation safety, especially in areas involving cruise control, GPS navigation, road cameras and radar, WHO-TV reported last week.
The bill in the Iowa state legislature shows how the adoption of new technology often requires close collaboration with the government, as arcane laws may unintentionally limit technology's potential.
Following distance laws generally seek to improve roadside safety by reducing accidents, but the safety benefits of vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology has raised questions on the modern need for some of these laws. Nationally, the department under the Obama administration actively pushed the deployment of such technology in all vehicles, not just trucks, and the creation of smart infrastructure to help automate braking, for example, and improve safety.
Yet, while many states are increasingly enthusiastic about autonomous vehicles, some are downright vehement in their reluctance to allow the new technology a foothold on local roads.
New York's Upstate Transportation Association (UTA) and Independent Drivers Guild (IDG), for example, are both in favor of bans out of concern that the driverless vehicles will ultimately cost thousands of transportation jobs. The IDG argues that existing laws alone are enough to ensure a ban, but the UTA is more insistent, instead seeking a long-term solution in the form of a 50-year ban on self-driving vehicles.
Though these are just two voices out of many, as autonomous technology becomes ubiquitous governments will have to navigate both drivers' and business interests. Generally, a war appears to be brewing as labor in various industries seeks to defend itself against potential job loss from automation.