Today’s Pickup: Senate leaves trucks out of self-driving vehicle legislation

Good day,

The U.S. Senate is set to pass a self-driving vehicle bill, and like similar legislation in the U.S. House passed early in September, it excludes commercial vehicles. The Senate bill will not include vehicles larger than 10,000 pounds, Reuters reported.

The bill, expected to be voted on during the Senate’s Oct. 5 session, is a compromise bill between Democrats and Republicans with its passage expected.

“While this Senate self-driving vehicle legislation still has room for further changes, it is a product of bipartisan cooperation we both stand behind,” said Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) and Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who introduced the legislation, in a joint statement.

The American Trucking Associations is disappointed in the exclusion of trucks, President Chris Spear said in a statement obtained by Reuters. “[This] “is not the end of the road for this issue. If more automated cars and trucks are to share the roads, they should also share the same framework.”

It is unclear what the actual bill includes, but the original draft of the bill included removing barriers to manufacturing self-driving vehicles, more safety oversight of manufacturers, efforts to improve law enforcement and cybersecurity protections.

The U.S. House’s bill allowed manufacturers to produce 25,000 self-driving cars in year one up to 100,000 by year three.

Did you know?

There are about 400,000 owner-operators in the U.S., 36% of which served in the military. And while dry vans are the most common trailer hauled by truckers, more owner-operators pull flatbeds and refrigerated trailers than van trailers, according to OOIDA.


“America is finally back on the right track, but our country and our economy can’t take off like they should unless we transform America’s complex and extremely burdensome tax code. We need a tax code that encourages companies to stay in America, grow in America and hire in America.”

President Donald Trump, to manufacturers, on his tax plan

In other news:

Dems pushing bill to require rule on sleep apnea

After FMCSA reversed course and pulled a potential sleep apnea bill, democrats in the House and Senate are trying to force through a bill requiring a rule. (Heavy Duty Trucking)

Volvo’s chief planner talks Tesla, autonomous trucks and more

Volvo Truck’s director of product planning spent some time at last week’s North American Commercial Vehicle Show talking about the future of trucking. (

XPO testing last mile web service

XPO Logistics is testing a last-mile web service that will allow customers to better track their shipments. (Transport Topics)

Ford goes for gold with 100K pickup

Ford has unveiled a F-450 model that will cost as much as $100,000, but it can tow up to 15 tons, the company said. (MyFox8)

Covenant rebrands

Covenant Transport has rebranded itself in an attempt to reflect the range of services it offers. The new company will be known as Covenant Transport Solutions. (Heavy Duty Trucking)

Final Thoughts

News late last week that the U.S. Senate has reached a deal on a bill guiding self-driving vehicle development is tempered by the fact that it too, like its House counterpart, excludes autonomous commercial vehicles over 10,000 pounds. Given the expectation that drivers will be part of any autonomous vehicle operation for many, many years to come, excluding commercial vehicles is not only a setback for the industry. It remains to be seen if this will impact the deployment of platoon vehicles in anyway.

Hammer down everyone!

Show More

Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.