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Could House Caucus Drive Forward Self-Driving Trucks?

April 29, 2016

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Photo: Daimler Trucks North America
Photo: Daimler Trucks North America

Although the makeup of its initial members as well as its stated goals strongly suggest its main focus will be on benefiting the auto industry, the new bipartisan House Smart Transportation Caucus may also prove a positive force in bringing autonomous— a.k.a. “self-driving”— trucks to the nation’s highway.

The caucus was formed by Reps. Joe Wilson (R-SC), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Joe Barton (R-TX), and Ted Lieu (D-CA) with the goal of “advancing new innovation in connected and autonomous vehicles.” All four represent districts in states that are home to major elements of the nation’s auto manufacturing industrial complex.

On the other hand, for what it may be worth, the group’s mission statement is heavily weighted towards not just smart cars, but smart transportation in general: “The Smart Transportation Caucus will encourage the development and deployment of existing and next-generation technologies, including connected and automated vehicle safety technologies, smart infrastructure, advanced traffic and freight management systems, real-time transit and parking technologies.”

The founding members also pledge to “coordinate relevant stakeholders in the Federal government, the auto industry, the communications industry, transportation safety advocates, cybersecurity groups and the privacy sector to engage in meaningful debate on policies and priorities that will help best support this new era in transportation.” 

“I am grateful to join my colleagues as a co-chair and founding member of the Smart Transportation Caucus,” said South Carolina’s Wilson. “Vehicle safety is of great importance to me because South Carolina is America’s leading exporter on cars and tires.” 

“Connected and autonomous vehicle technology is one of the most competitive areas globally for manufacturing, and we need to show the world that we are leading the way in developing technology that will improve car safety and fuel efficiency, reduce congestion, and save lives,” said Michigan’s Dingell. 

She added that the bipartisan caucus will help “educate Members about the innovation that is happening in the United States, identify policy areas that need to be improved to support the development of new technologies, and boost collaboration to ensure the U.S. always maintains its competitive edge.” 

All that sure sounds promising. But it behooves trucking to lobby a representative or two who is tuned in to what freight haulers want from smart roads and smart trucks to sign on to this caucus. Do I hear phones ringing in Chairman Shuster’s office?



  1. 1. Erana [ July 18, 2016 @ 12:11PM ]

    Smart cars might be taking over, but how long do you think it will take for the full transition? Is it something to worry about for truck drivers and companies?

    Since I have a full truck permitting company, that it can potentially affect.


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David Cullen

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Executive Editor David Cullen comments on the positive and negative factors impacting trucking – from the latest government regulations and policy initiatives coming out of Washington DC to the array of business and societal pressures that also determine what truck-fleet managers must do to ensure their operations keep on driving ahead.


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