April 2, 2024 |

Protecting Workers and Public Safety: A Call Against Autonomous Vehicle Testing in New York City from the Justice for App Workers Coalition

We, as drivers, delivery workers, and advocates for our rights and public safety, strongly oppose the testing of autonomous vehicles in New York City. This reckless endeavor poses significant risks to both public safety and the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of app-based workers.

The rush to deploy autonomous vehicles overlooks critical safety concerns. The technology powering these vehicles is still in its infancy, with numerous incidents highlighting the potential dangers associated with their operation on public roads. Delivery workers on bikes and small children are at particular risk of getting hit by autonomous vehicles since they can easily be missed by sensors. From accidents caused by software malfunctions to the countless deaths from autonomous vehicles, the risks to public safety are undeniable. 

Autonomous vehicles still grapple with significant challenges when encountering adverse weather conditions like snow or heavy rain. The reliance of self-driving systems on sensors and cameras for navigation poses a substantial risk to public safety, especially in bustling urban environments like New York City. Snow accumulation can block the vehicle’s sensors, obscure road markings, and cover important visual cues, while heavy rain can interfere with sensor accuracy, impeding the vehicle’s ability to perceive its surroundings accurately. The deployment of autonomous vehicles in such conditions poses a considerable threat, highlighting the urgent need for pause before widespread implementation anywhere in the Northeast can be considered safe and viable.

The introduction of autonomous vehicles in New York City also threatens the jobs of over a hundred thousand drivers with no benefit to the state. We rely on app-based platforms for our livelihood. As drivers, many of whom are immigrants, people of color, and low-income individuals, we depend on driving as our primary source of income to support ourselves and our families. The sudden influx of autonomous vehicles would jeopardize our economic stability and exacerbate existing inequalities within our communities.

We cannot afford to prioritize the corporate interests of California billionaires over the well-being of workers and the safety of our communities. Instead of blindly embracing autonomous vehicle testing, we must prioritize measures that protect workers’ jobs and ensure the safety of all New Yorkers. 

As advocates for justice and equity, we call on policymakers and regulatory bodies to halt the approval of testing of autonomous vehicles in New York City and ensure that automated vehicles will never be allowed in our city. Our priorities must be to safeguard the livelihoods of app-based workers and protect the safety of all residents. Anything less would be a betrayal of our responsibility to uphold the rights and well-being of our community.

Signed,

Justice for App Workers



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