New York Drivers Want A 50-Year Ban On Self-Driving Cars In A Bid To Protect Their Jobs

Jan 17, 2017 06:00 AM EST | Rebecca Pearson

The emergence of autonomous cars might be considered as progress for the tech industry but New York drivers see this as a threat to their jobs. In fact, the Independent Drivers Guild (IDG) and Upstate Transportation Association (UTA) have banded together to call for stricter measures against the entrance of self-driving cars in commercial operations in the state. One group is pushing for a 50-year ban.

Driver groups are aware that taxi services using advanced technology, like Uber and Lyft, are planning to introduce self-driving cars in its fleet. According to CNN, Uber is actually in the middle of testing the system in Pittsburgh before it becomes operational in other states.

The company has promised, however, that such a move will provide more job opening, which should alleviate the drivers' concerns. But drivers are not enthusiastic about this potential.

The IDG, which has over 45,000 members, believes that there is a particular state law that could protect their jobs and ensure that self-driving cars won't go commercial. IDG is referring to the 45-year-old Bill No. AO7445 that requires "a vehicle operator keep one hand on the steering mechanism at all times," which should make autonomous cars irrelevant.

On the other hand, the UTA, which has a taxi, medical and truck drivers for members, is going for a more aggressive fight given that state laws can be amended at any time. It is pushing for the 50-year ban on self-driving cars. It cited that not only will this impact jobs, but it will also affect the state's economy.

The UTA believes that self-driving taxi service is just the start. Eventually, companies will want to replace truck drivers and other similar jobs as well.

According to Engadget, opportunities for these drivers are already diminished as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed to make ridesharing services state-wide in 2017. The governor also plans to create a task force to study and provide recommendations on the viability of these upgraded taxi services since it is still a new technology. "[We] are not aware of what the ramifications of the technology are," ethicist, consultant and book author Wendell Wallach said in the CNN report.

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