The new infrastructure bill will allow teens to make interstate trips. A software update over the summer gave many Tesla drivers the ability to play video games while the vehicle is in motion.
The new infrastructure law signed by President Joe Biden will let some drivers as young as 18 make interstate trips in an attempt to ease the nation’s supply-chain squeeze. However, the move also raises safety concerns.
The pilot program in the $550 billion infrastructure law allows those as young as 18 to drive across state lines if they complete at least 400 hours of duty time.
The three-year pilot program was opposed by safety advocates who point out that teenagers crash at four times the rate of older drivers.
The program was included in the infrastructure law at the urging of the industry, which says it’s 80,000 drivers short of where it needs to be to meet demand projections. That lack of drivers has contributed to backups at ports and a major slowdown in the supply chain.
There’s also a proposal to relax federal rest requirements, which brings its own safety concerns. The Department of Transportation’s rules currently limit truckers to 11 hours in a work day and 70 hours in a week. And they must be given at least one 30-minute break during the first eight hours of their shift. An exemption put in place by the Trump administration last year allows drivers making trips within a few hours of their starting point to work a 14-hour shift.
Others are pushing for truckers to be left out of the federal vaccine mandate that is currently on hold after a federal court temporarily halted implementation. The industry argues that truck drivers should be exempt because they spend most of their time driving alone.
Source: “Teen Truckers Are Taking to the Streets, and Safety Advocates Are Worried,” Bloomberg/Claims Journal, Dec. 3, 2021
Many Tesla drivers will now be able to play video games on the large touch screen mounted in front of the dashboard—while the vehicle is in motion.
The automaker added the games in an over-the-air software update that was sent to most of its cars this summer. They can be played by a driver or by a passenger in full view of the driver.
Tesla’s Autopilot system, which can steer, slow and accelerate a car on its own, has faced criticism from safety experts because it allows drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel for extended periods. It also lacks an effective means of ensuring that drivers keep their eyes on the road.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said this combination of hands-free driving and drivers’ looking away from the road has been connected to at least 12 traffic deaths since 2016 in Tesla cars that were operating in Autopilot mode.
Source: “A New Tesla Safety Concern: Drivers Can Play Video Games in Moving Cars,” New York Times, Dec. 7, 2021