Drivers Guild Blasts NYC Self-Driving Cars Plan

28 Mar 2024

Credit: NBC 4 New York

NYC’s Professional Drivers Slam NYC Mayor for Endangering New Yorkers with Autonomous Vehicles

IDG: NYC’s Extremely Challenging Traffic Environment is No Place for Testing Autonomous Vehicles 

Driverless Cars have Clogged Streets, Caused Accidents and Injuries to Pedestrians and Cyclists in Other Cities, Pose Particular Risk to Children

New York, NY — Today, the Independent Drivers Guild, a Machinists Union affiliate that represents and advocates for New York City’s 80,000 Uber and Lyft drivers, slammed New York City Mayor Adams for opening up the city to experimental autonomous vehicles.

“Mayor Adams is endangering our children, pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and all New Yorkers by allowing autonomous vehicles on our streets. New York City has the most challenging traffic environment in the country and is no place for testing out dangerous autonomous vehicle technology. Driverless cars are clogging streets and causing accidents and injuries, and even deaths, in locations where they have been allowed to operate. Why would Mayor Adams allow New York City to become a testing ground for these risky vehicles when they are wreaking such havoc in less challenging cities?” demanded Brendan Sexton, President of the Independent Drivers Guild, the nation’s largest rideshare driver organization.

Researchers have found that pedestrian detection technology is less likely to detect children putting young people at particular risk.  With record numbers of pedestrians, cyclists and scooters sharing the road with vehicles each day, the last thing we need is the hazard of experimental autonomous vehicles,” said Sexton. “The supposed “safety driver” is being asked to do an impossible job of continuously monitoring their surroundings, realizing they are in an emergency situation, realizing when the car is responding inappropriately to the emergency and then taking over control of the vehicle… all in the split second it takes to prevent someone’s death. Anyone with any experience behind the wheel could tell you that a “safety driver” does not eliminate the risk posed by these experimental vehicles.”

“For people who don’t want to drive or own their own vehicle, we already have the best, safest for-hire vehicle sector in the nation here in New York City. Why would you throw out a system that is already working and is already providing 100,000 jobs to New Yorkers and replace it with a dangerous experimental system that ultimately seeks to eliminate those jobs?” added Sexton, referencing the more than 100,000 Taxi and Limousine Commission licensed for-hire vehicle drivers who keep the city moving.  “New York leaders just approved a new congestion toll this week seeking to discourage vehicle traffic in our city, putting pressure on the livelihood of our city’s for-hire vehicle workers. To turn around and open up our streets to fleets of experimental vehicles that provide no value to our city but are known to cause accidents, clog streets and block passage of emergency vehicles makes absolutely no sense.”

The Independent Drivers Guild is the nation’s largest rideshare driver advocacy group that represents and advocates for more than 300,000 drivers across NY, NJ, CT, MA , IL and FL. The Guild’s organizing has secured landmark victories that put billions of dollars in the pockets of drivers, including requiring a tipping option in the Uber app and winning the nation’s first livable minimum wage for rideshare drivers in New York City. The Drivers Guild is a non-profit worker center affiliated with the Machinists Union, an AFL-CIO member union, which has represented for-hire vehicle drivers for more than twenty years.

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