The New York-based Upstate Transportation Association (UTA) wants to turn back the clock on driverless cars.
In a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as well as leaders of the New York Senate and Assembly, UTA raised concerns about potential job losses if self-driving cars become commonplace on public roads.
The letter was sent as legislators are considering a bill to allow ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft to expand operations throughout the state. Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick promised 13,000 new jobs if Uber is allowed to expand. However, Kalanick has also mentioned that the future of driving belongs to driverless cars.
“Anyone who believes Uber will create jobs should also be willing to protect them from automation,” said John Tomassi, president of UTA. “If you approve a ride-sharing expansion without a ban on driverless cars, you will be turning new jobs into lost jobs.”
The UTA is pushing for a 50-year ban on driverless cars in New York to protect jobs. However, the rest of the automotive and technology industry is blazing full steam ahead to a future without drivers–from Google testing driverless cars in Pittsburgh to Nissan looking to test on the streets of London, driverless cars are making their way to the streets in droves.
“For nearly eight years, we’ve been working toward a future without the tired, drunk, or distracted driving that contributes to 1.2 million lives lost on roads every year,” said John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo. “Since 2009, our prototypes have spent the equivalent of 300 years of driving time on the road and we’ve led the industry from a place where self-driving cars seem like science fiction to one where city planners all over the world are designing for a self-driven future.”
Thus far, UTA’s call for a ban has been met with silence. UTA has pledged to not give up the fight against driverless cars.
“It doesn’t do anything for the local economy to have driverless cars,” Tomassi told CNN. “I’m sure there’s a little bit of job creation, but nothing that will match the number of jobs lost.”
While its plea is likely doomed, it does show the tension between innovation and tradition. Federal, state, and local governments have to navigate rapidly improving technology with a set of laws developed for cars closer to Fred Flintstone’s vehicle than Google’s dream of a car with no steering wheel or pedals.