Will Self-Driving Trucks Make Roads Safer? (Part 1)

Posted By Regan Zambri Long, PLLC || 25-May-2017

The test runs have already begun. In 2016, an Uber-owned company named Otto sent its first prototype self-driving truck down a Colorado highway with a load of beer, hailing the first official trip of an autonomous truck. Since then, Daimler’s Freightliner “Inspiration” has made test runs, and a new startup named Maven Ventures hopes to send its truck “Embark” on test runs soon. Some believe we’ll start seeing these self-driving trucks regularly on the roads as early as 2020, possibly fully taking over the trucking industry by 2032.

The idea of driverless heavy trucks hurtling down our highways evokes a sense of fear in some, but many experts believe once the processes have been refined and the bugs worked out, self-driving trucks will actually make the roads safer, even as many truck drivers will eventually have to find new forms of employment.

Why Safer?

How can a driverless truck be safer than a human-controlled vehicle? Given the current progress of self-driving technology already achieved—and even the enhanced safety features in some of our current vehicles like automatic braking and self-parking—experts believe computer-controlled vehicles will eliminate the variables of human error, especially driver fatigue. Between a shortage of drivers on the roads and the pressures to work long shifts with little rest, driver fatigue has become a leading cause of trucking accidents in recent years. (We elaborate on some other truck driver dangers in this post.) Because autonomous vehicles don’t require rest or breaks, many believe the lack of human error will ultimately result in fewer accidents.

Are There Any Risks?

New technologies and changing methods always include new types of risk, even while eliminating old ones. In part 2 of this series, we will look at some of the potential dangers of self-driving trucks and the steps industry professionals are taking to be proactive about them.

If you or a loved one is involved in an injury trucking accident, our Washington D.C. personal injury attorneys can help. Call our office to learn more.
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