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AB 316 Severely Restricts Self-Driving Semi-Trucks

AB 316 Severely Restricts Self-Driving Semi-Trucks

California lawmakers propose AB 316, which would require all self-driving cars to be operated by a human.

Many industry representatives have gone against this bill stating that it is misguided.

“Rather than doing the responsible thing and waiting to see what a co-equal branch of government is doing, (legislators) are stepping in the middle and lighting a stick of dynamite,” said Jeff Farrah, executive director of the Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association.

On May 31, California assembly members voted to pass Assembly Bill 316. With bipartisan support the bill severely restricts autonomous semi-trucks and big rigs.

“Let’s face it. There are a lot of people in Big Tech lobbying against this bill, and you know they have the ear of the governor and his staff,” said the bill’s author, Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters). “But we need to make sure that the roads are safe for the sake of our constituents and that jobs are safe for our truck drivers.”

The next step for AB 316 is for it to pass in the California Senate then it would need to be signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The goal for this bill is to spark the national conversation on regulations surrounding the risks around automation and artificial intelligence.

Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), who voted in support, said she had “not been impressed” with the DMV’s actions around autonomous vehicles up to this point.

“Unfortunately, the DMV has failed to keep track of problems that are occurring right now with the autonomous vehicles that are on the road,” Friedman said, pointing to cars shutting down in the middle of streets and on transit tracks, or trying to flee police.

“The fact of the matter is, if a human was driving like some of these vehicles, they probably would have had their license suspended by now.”

Advocates of AB 316 include San Francisco Mayor London Breed and U.S. Reps. Barbara Lee, Katie Porter and Adam Schiff. The California Labor Federation and International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents truck drivers across the state. Teamster was also a key player in crafting the bill.

“In our view, autonomous vehicles are a direct threat to good, middle-class jobs,” said Peter Finn, western region vice president for the Teamsters. 

“The purpose of why these autonomous vehicles are being created and why big corporations want to use this technology is for one reason only — and that’s to cut their labor costs.”

The autonomous driving technology company, Aurora, has partnered with FedEx to transport shipments between major metropolitan areas across Texas.

Mufaddal Ezzy, Aurora’s senior director of state public affairs, said the company takes safety seriously and its trucks operate almost exclusively on highways to avoid congestion on the pedestrian roads

“I think what’s oftentimes unfortunately lost in the debate is that this human-driven status quo is incredibly tragic and getting worse,” he said. “There’s an opportunity here for autonomous trucks to really help make an impact on that.”

Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association, argues that lawmakers are conflating autonomous driving technology with advanced driver assist technology. 

Driver assist technology, such as Tesla’s autopilot capabilities, requires assistance from a human operator while autonomous vehicles drive without any human assistance.

The Bottom Line

Technology is usually miles ahead of legislation, however in this case specifically, lawmakers are attempting to solve the problem before it becomes unmanageable. 

Should AB 316 pass and be integrated, self-driving semi-trucks will either be heavily regulated or banned from the transportation industry.

Automatic Emergency Braking Requirement for New Vehicles

Automatic Emergency Braking System Requirement for New Vehicles

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed a new requirement for new passenger cars and light trucks to include automatic emergency braking.

If you remember, back in April, the White House announced that they will be reviewing the proposal from NHTSA to require automatic emergency braking systems in heavy duty trucks. 

NHTSA announced on Wednesday that the agency will take the next steps in regulating electronic systems that take on certain tasks that drivers themselves have normally done. 

The agency has also expressed some reservations to impose such regulations, saying the technology will change during the time it takes to enact new rules.

Ann Carlson, the safety agency’s chief counsel, says 90% of new passenger vehicles already include the braking technology under a voluntary program that automakers have approved. But she says NHTSA wants to make the braking systems more effective at higher speeds and better at avoiding pedestrians, especially at night.

“With this proposal, we could change a high-speed crash from a deadly one to a lower-speed crash with minor injuries or just property damage,” Carlson said.

An example of this regulation in effect is the system allows vehicles to fully avoid other vehicles at up to 50 miles per hour if a driver should fail to react. If a driver brakes some but not enough to stop a collision, the system would have to avoid hitting another vehicle at up to 62 mph.

Before NHTSA decides on a final version of the regulation, the regulation will undergo a 60-day public comment period.

According to NHTSA, this technology has the potential to reduce rear-end crashes. They estimate it would save at least 360 lives per year, as well as reduce other injuries by 24,000 per year.

The United States Department of Transportation has called the proposal a step in the right direction for reducing roadway deaths.

William Wallace, associate director of safety policy for Consumer Reports, said he welcomed NHTSA’s proposal as strong and justified.

“NHTSA is setting a high bar for safety, and using the tools at its disposal to get the auto industry to protect as many people as possible,” he said.

Wallace and Consumer Reports have found that an increase in government safety requirements do not increase the cost of vehicles.

The regulation will replace the 2016 agreement between the agency and 20 automakers to make the braking system standard on 95% of passenger vehicles by the end of the 2023 model year.

In a statement made on Wednesday, Alliance for Automotive Innovation, an industry trade group, said that it was still evaluating NHTSA’s proposal.

A study last year by The Partnership for Analytics Research in Traffic Safety found that the frequency of front-to-rear crashes was reduced 49% when the striking vehicle had forward collision alert plus automatic braking, compared with vehicles that lacked either system.

Automatic braking systems don’t come without issues, though. NHTSA has opened three investigations into systems from Tesla, Honda and Freightliner that activated the brakes when it was not needed.

But Markus Price, NHTSA’s division chief for visibility and injury prevention, said the new regulation is designed to reduce false braking by the systems.

“We’ve considered that in the rule,” he said. “We have a couple tests that help mitigate that.”

The Bottom Line

With support from agencies like the Department of Transportation and Consumer Reports, it is likely this regulation will be passed and implemented in the future, especially with the data and statistics provided by The Partnership for Analytics Research in Traffic Safety.

However, with the NHTSA investigation on AEB systems braking when not necessary, this lapse in technology could prevent the regulations implementation. 

April 2023: Freight Rates Analysis


Freight Volume Shipping Rates Decline…again

Analysts have reported a decline in freight volume from March to April 2023.

This can stem from a multitude of reasons, some of the top contributors being that March had three more business days than April.

Another potential reason could be that March is the final month in the quarter, which is when shippers are more likely to move inventory to get it off the books. 

While these explain the recent drop in freight volume, it doesn’t explain the drastic year-over-year decline from March 2022. 

According to data from DAT Freight and Analytics, dry van freight declined 15.5% and 12.3% in March and April 2022. 

The same data also shows that temperature-controlled freight dropped by 16.3% in March and 12.5% in April 2022. 

DAT goes on to report that dry van and temperature-controlled freights hit their lowest rates since February 2021, which was likely caused by the polar vortex that resulted in frigid temperatures and severe weather related delays.

“May will be pivotal for shippers, brokers and carriers,” said Ken Adamo, DAT’s chief of analytics. “After a challenging first four months of the year, we expect to see the effects of seasonality on freight volumes and rates. The question is how sustainable those effects will be.”

The press release from DAT Freight and Analytics shows that the load-to-truck ratios on its load board for all three categories were low. 

The issue with this is when fewer loads are posted for each truck, there is a higher chance of competition for those available loads and rates are pushed down.

As a result, all three categories (dry van, temperature-controlled, and flatbed) experienced lower rates.

The average dry van and temperature-controlled spot rates fell 10 cents below March and 71 cents per mile from April 2022.

Flatbed spot rates declined 4 cents and were 70 cents per mile lower than in April 2022.

Adamo claims that there are two things that would cause these rates to go back up, fewer trucks and more freight.

In order for there to be fewer trucks carriers would need to reduce their need for them, resulting in a decrease in orders and ultimately a decrease in profit.

Having more freight should be fairly simple as there is typically an increase in freight as construction and produce harvesting begin. 

But, with inflation and higher interest rates, this could hinder the effects of having more freight.

A May 16 release of ACT Research’s Freight Forecast, U.S. Rate and Volume OUTLOOK report addressed carrier closings.

“Interstate operating authorities are contracting at a record rate, with about 11,000 net revocations since last October, including about 1,600 net revocations in April,” said Tim Denoyer, ACT vice president and senior analyst. “This is beginning to tighten capacity, which will also help spot rates find the bottom and begin to rise.”

Another factor that really affects these numbers is the number of drivers employed. Which, as we know, hasn’t been great. 

“Long-distance trucking employment is also contracting, as long-haul trucking jobs declined by 8,700 jobs in Q1’23, or 1%,” Denoyer said. “While still up 3% year-over-year in that latest March data point, the series will be down on a year-over-year basis by June on its current level. Since trends in employment follow trends in freight rates, long-haul jobs are set to decline this year.”

The Bottom Line

It’s hard to predict when freight rates will pick back up, but in a few months we will have a better understanding. Until then, one thing you can do to combat this, is get started in the trucking industry. 

Semi-truck drivers are in high demand and fleet owners are willing to pay a pretty penny for drivers. For more information about becoming a semi-truck driver, check out this article

Five Truck Parking Bills Advance in House

Five Truck Parking Bills Advance in House

House Committee Approves Truck Parking Bills 

On May 24, 2023 it was announced that five transportation-related bills; The Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, The LICENSE Act, The CARS Act, The Dry Bulk Weight Tolerance Act, and H.R. 3447, have all been passed by the House committee.

ATA President and CEO Chris Spear told HDT Trucking, “The comprehensive and bipartisan bills that advanced today would address some of the root causes of ongoing supply chain challenges and improve the overall safety, efficiency, and resiliency of freight transportation.”

The Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act

The TPSI Act is intended to create competitive grant programs specifically to fund truck parking projects in the United States. 

ATA reports, there is only one parking spot for every 11 trucks on the road. They also report that on average, drivers spend 56 minutes per day looking for safe parking.

According to ATA, passing this bill and providing drivers with access to safe parking spots would increase highway safety and improve supply chain efficiency.

Dave Williams, Truckload Carriers Association chairman and senior vice president of Knight-Swift Transportation, said this action can have a positive impact on trucking.

“TCA applauds the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s approval of H.R. 2367, the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, aimed at addressing the critical shortage of truck parking. This positive outcome represents a significant step forward in enhancing driver safety, ensuring compliance with federal regulations, and improving the operational efficiency of the trucking industry,” Williams said.


The Licensing Individual Commercial Exam-takers Now Safely and Efficiently Act of 2022 (LICENSE Act), if made into law, will make two DOT waivers that make it easier for new drivers to get licensing permanent.

ATA said these waivers will improve the application process for individuals seeking a CDL. 

The bill would allow examiners to administer a CDL knowledge and driving test to any applicant regardless of the applicant’s prior training.

The goal of this bill is to lessen the severe impact of the truck driver shortage. 

The CARS Act

In a nutshell, the Carrying Automobiles Responsibly and Safely Act (CARS Act) will cap stinger-steered automobile transporters at 10% weight tolerance.

“A weight tolerance for automobile transporters, which are hauling heavier hybrid and electric passenger cars to market, would enable these vehicles to maximize the use of their equipment to get clean cars to auto dealers,” states the ATA.  

“Without exceeding federal bridge weight limits, this bill would reduce the number of miles traveled by heavy-duty trucks that must now complete multiple trips because they are unable to fully load their equipment due to current weight limits.”

There has been some pushback on this bill, specifically from TCA and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. 

Dave Williams, Truckload Carriers Association chairman and senior vice president of Knight-Swift Transportation, said this bill would increase the infrastructure and roadway safety concerns.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters rejected the notion of the bill for similar reasons. 

“We reject the notion that the only way to determine if heavier trucks are safe is by unleashing them on our roads through the poorly designed, unrestricted pilot program that this legislation allows. The Department of Transportation, civil engineers, and drivers have long agreed that heavier trucks pose demonstrable risks to motorists and harm to infrastructure,” said John Murphy, Teamsters Freight Division director; and Avral Thompson, Teamsters Carhaul Division director, in a statement.

The Dry Bulk Weight Tolerance Act

Similar to the last bill, the Dry Bulk Weight Tolerance Act would allow for a 10% weight tolerance for dry bulk carriers to allow for shifting cargo exclusively in vehicles loaded at or below the federal weight limit.

This bill would allow for less penalties for shifting weight due to braking, and other standard highway events when hauling dry bulk goods.

H.R. 3477

This house bill would provide a 2,000-pound weight exemption to hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Currently, the exception applies to both battery-electric and natural gas-powered heavy-duty trucks. 

ATA said this bill would ultimately reduce emissions while restoring technology and fuel neutrality in federal regulations.


The Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, The LICENSE Act, The CARS Act, The Dry Bulk Weight Tolerance Act, and H.R. 3447 all aim to improve the infrastructure and parking facilities available to truck drivers.

Now that these bills are on their way to the house floor and senate floor, we can expect these five bills to either be approved and made law, or rejected and revised. 

National Work Zone Awareness Week Is April 26th-30th

Working at construction site on city street

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is attempting to bring awareness to driving extra cautiously in work zones, especially in the time of the coronavirus pandemic where such injuries have been exacerbated.

Cone Zone

An average person may be inclined to believe that COVID-19 has reduced injuries on the road. The truth is that with fewer people on the road to look out for, drivers have become more reckless in their driving. In some cases this has increased the number of accidents per mile traveled, but in others it is a direct increase regardless of fewer vehicles traveling.

One such example is highway work zone fatalities, an issue that predominantly affects men. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reports that in 2019, highway work zone fatalities were 757, and that 2020 had 842. This over eleven percent increase is the highest in such fatalities since the turn of the century, and does not even account for non-fatal injuries.

Meera Joshi of the FMCSA says that truckers have a disproportionate responsibility in causing the problem. “I am especially concerned that large trucks continue to have a disproportional involvement in fatal crashes occurring in work zones – 33% – when large trucks comprise roughly five percent of vehicular traffic.  Don’t allow yourself to become distracted, slow down, obey the signs and the instructions of flaggers and be courteous and safe by giving every vehicle extra space. Highway workers equally depend on you for their safety.” This problem is further compounded that because of a big rig’s massive weight, a road worker is significantly less likely to survive than if instead hit by a sedan.

Six states that have the highest proportion of these deaths (Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Texas) will have additional signage at road work areas to bring further awareness to the issue.


The FMCSA and FHWA are coming together to urge the public to wear orange on April 28th, the middle of the Week, to bring further awareness of the issue nationwide. While this may be a grandstand, the first step to a public health resolution is making people aware that a phenomenon exists.

There is a reason why traffic fines are doubled in work zones beyond just trying to generate additional revenue for governments. When driving in these areas, make sure to drive slowly and carefully to avoid adding to the statistics.

Trucking Insurance Bill Returns to Congress


It appears as though every single bill relating to trucking that died in the halls of Congress in 2020 is making a comeback for the new year. The latest one is the Improving National Safety by Updating the Required Amount of Insurance Needed by Commercial Motor Vehicles per Event (INSURANCE) Act of 2019. Despite its name, it was debated both years of the 116th Congress. Now, with Democrat control in both halls, it may just become law.


The bill is very short compared to the average bill introduced into Congress. Even so, it can be summarized into two points:

  1. The minimum insurance coverage requirements for commercial motor vehicles is raised to match the change in medical costs since 1980.
  2. The minimum insurance coverage requirements are updated every five years after.

Current insurance requirements, established in 1980, are set to $750,000. Indexed to inflation, the requirements would increase to approximately $1,800,000. When indexed to the rising costs of medical services (which outpaces inflation), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) finds the insurance coverage to be close to $5,000,000.

This is a massive increase from what would have been the requirements in the Moving Forward Act, which pegged the coverage requirements at $2,000,000.


The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s (OOIDA) executive vice president Lewie Pugh, writes similar sentiments to the INSURANCE Act as he did for the Moving Forward Act. Those points being:

  1. Current insurance requirements cover 99.4% of all cases, while raising coverage would still not provide 100% case coverage.
  2. There is no proven correlation between higher insurance coverages and a reduction in insurance claims.
  3. Raising coverage requirements would cause annual premiums per truckers to more than double, in an industry with already tight margins.

Simply put, Pugh argues that the legislation will do only harm, not good.


There is a huge chasm between an overwhelming majority of claims being under $750,000, and ones totaling over $10 million (coded as “nuclear verdicts”). Thanks to increases in safety technology over the decades, the coverage requirements set in 1980 are still relevant to most cases today. If Congress and other groups hope to mitigate the problem of nuclear verdicts, surely there must be a better solution than raising insurance requirements for everyone.

March 2021: Trailer Sales Pummel Same Time Last Year


Nobody can predict the future, but they can certainly make educated guesses about it.

Trailer sales in March 2020 were in the close region of 8,000 units. This was at the start of the pandemic, a month half comprised of rushes on toilet paper and half of lockdowns across the nation.

It should not be surprising that March 2021 was an increase from the same month last year.

The Numbers

FTR estimates net trailer orders for the third month of the year to be 27,400. This is a 6.4% increase month-to-month, but more than a 200% increase year-to-year.

Don Ake is the FTR Vice President of Commercial Vehicles. He says the 6.4% increase from last month is attributable to an increase in dry van sales while other trailer sales remained steady.

He also voices his concerns that the supply chain for the trucking industry may not also create a dearth of trucks for sale, but also trailers. “Pressure is building up in the trailer market. Backlogs are at record levels and fleets desperately need more trailers,” he says. “Capacity is very tight in some areas of the country and spot rates remain near record highs.”

With more sales, the total rolling total of trailer sales is now 346,000.


Next month is the month we have been waiting for since the start of the new year. The dog days of the pandemic encapsulated April. Trailer sales suffered, dropping to a paltry 1,000 estimate. A bold prediction: sales year-over-year is going to exceed 2000%.

Companies and Drivers Differ on DRIVE-Safe Act


If you are a citizen of 49 different states or the District of Columbia (New York being the sole exception), you can drive with a CDL within state borders at various ages between 18 and 21. Once a truck driver crosses state borders, however, it becomes a federal issue and the CDL holder must be at least 21. This leads to some obvious absurdities: a Texas driver gets over two hundred times the driving space as one from Rhode Island.

With a “trucker shortage” that is driving the cost of shipping goods to high levels, Congress has been debating the DRIVE-Safe Act on and off since 2018. It would allow drivers under 21 to cross state lines after jumping through some hoops. Companies that have their goods delivered are huge fans, but drivers themselves appear to be hesitant to share the road with the less experienced.


Were the DRIVE-Safe Act to become law, it would not automatically grant younger drivers the right to interstate travel. To cross state lines, a young driver must:

  • Complete 400 hours of additional training, with at least 240 of those hours behind the wheel.
  • Drive as a team member with another, more experienced driver.
  • Use a truck fitted with the latest and greatest safety technology, included but not limited to, a 65 MPH speed limiter.

While these regulations would prevent a truck driver from going off on his own, they would allow more urgent freight to be delivered across the country faster through the power of team driving.

Support of Entities

117 different entities co-signed their approval on a letter sent to Congress on April 14th, 2021, urging them to vote yea on the bill. The organizations primarily either represent people who need goods shipped, or do the shipping. Examples include:

  • American Frozen Food Institute
  • Cotton Growers Warehouse Association
  • FedEx
  • Pet Industry Distributors Association
  • Truck Renting and Leasing Association
  • UPS
  • Walmart
  • Wisconsin Beverage Association

Drivers Oppose

OverDrive Online polled its readership as to if it would support having CDL holders under age 21 drive across state lines:

  • 63% said no.
  • 17% said maybe, with limitations and appropriate training.
  • 15% said yes.
  • 5% said “other” or not sure.

We have talked about how different factors in Overdrive’s polling process can skew the numbers away from the actual numbers, but it is probably fair enough to say that at least 50% of drivers are not fully on board with the idea.

Supporters of the DRIVE-Safe Act on social media cite the absurdity of being able to go much further in one direction than the other just because of a state line, while the opposition cites the connection between accident chances and the age of the driver.


In regards to the social media comments, both sides have valid arguments to support their points. If drivers between ages 18 and 20 have the highest risk of accident per driven mile, allowing them to travel across one state line 45 miles away would actually be less risky than crossing the entirety of Texas, but the chances increase when the young driver travels through multiple states, such as going from Kentucky to Oregon.

It seems both sides have trouble with long-distance driving. Perhaps a suitable compromise that could work is allowing truck drivers under the age of 21 to travel in a 500 mile radius either from the state capitol or the center of the state. Such a rule would allow truck drivers, no matter which state they are from, to cross certain state borders legally, but would only allow them on shorter trips than an older truck could travel.

Meera Joshi to Become FMCSA Administrator

Photo from wagner.nyu.edu

In mid-April, Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Meera Joshi as the administrator to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Does this sound familiar? If the news sounds like a repeat from the beginning of the year, there is a slight change that makes this different than before.

Technical Promotion

Until now, Joshi worked as the acting deputy administrator, but with presumably nobody above her, it may be safe to say she was acting administrator.

Whatever the case, it appears Joe Biden has approved of her work so far and hopes to have her work permanently.

Meera Joshi

Meera Joshi graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology, followed by obtaining a Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1995. Her recent work background most notably includes working for the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) since 2011, where she became the CEO and Commission Chair in 2014 under mayor Bill de Blasio.

The TLC regulates daily passenger transportation within New York City. This is not just for taxis and limousines, but also ridesharing programs such as Uber and Lyft. In total, the TLC oversees 130,000 vehicles and 200,000 different drivers.

One of her top priorities working at the TLC involved policy to make sure rideshare drivers obtained livable wages. Similar work may be done under Joshi for broker transparency in the years to come.


The last time the FMCSA had a permanent lead administrator was under the Trump Administration in 2019 with Raymond Martinez.

So far the FMCSA seems to be taking more of a backseat approach than it did in 2020 with active changes such as the hours-of-service reform. Nobody knows if this pattern will continue for four more years, except maybe Meera Joshi herself.

CVSA Operation Safe Driver Week Begins July 11th


Operation Safe Driver Week is once again in sight. Like last year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is putting a hefty focus on speeding, and with all of the data regarding speeding, it is easy to see why.


The coronavirus pandemic has killed people in more ways than just the disease itself. Aside from alcohol poisoning and suicides, another fallout of the pandemic is the lack of cars on the road. This sounds great on paper, but this goes beyond simple rush hour congestion. With fewer vehicles on the road, drivers that are on the road are taking more risks, so in a way a small amount of traffic is healthy for the roadways by keeping drivers cautious.

Speeding is dangerous because when a driver crashes, their vehicle is hit with the same kinetic energy it is traveling with for it to stop. The formula for kinetic energy reads as

KE = 1/2mv2

The accurate formula follows the metric system, with kilograms and meters per second, but what you need to realize is that each unit of speed you gain increases the kinetic energy more than the last. Going from 59 MPH to 60 MPH is an increase of energy equal to going from a standstill to 11 MPH.

Here is a graph to help illustrate the relative danger of a collision at varying speeds.

Kinetic Energy

This multiplier assumes that the mass of the vehicle is constant; the multiplier goes up even further when considering an 80,000-pound truck compared to a 2,500-pound Honda Civic!


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has updated their numbers for speeding-related fatalities in 2018 from 10,000 to 9,378, which is still about 25 people per day. Despite the reduced numbers of total drivers on the road, 2020 statistics are predicted to be even higher than that.

The best thing you can do, not just for Operation Safe Driver Week, but in general, is to slow down. If you need to get more work done and goods delivered, it may make more sense in the long-term to have two trucks go 50 MPH rather than one going 60 MPH. Your fuel efficiency, vehicle wear-and-tear, insurance, and traffic violations will thank you.