In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the prospect of self-driving trucks
replacing manned trucks on our roads and highways in the upcoming years.
Many experts believe these trucks will ultimately make roads safer because
they are not prone to human fatigue or error.
That said, every new technology comes with its own risks, especially at
the beginning. Let’s explore some of the inherent dangers associated
with self-driving vehicles and what developers are doing, or need to do,
to address these dangers.
Cybersecurity risks. As with any computer system connected to a network, self-driving trucks
may be vulnerable to hackers, either reprogramming or sabotaging the vehicles
to cause crashes. As the technology evolves, programmers are working to
stay ahead of the curve with cybersecurity measures to make sure these
trucks are safe.
Computer failure. At some point, every computer fails—including computers that will
eventually control autonomous trucks. Meticulous inspections and maintenance
must become part of the process to limit computer failures or to create
fallback systems so failures don’t cause accidents.
Lack of human reason. Our current roadway systems and infrastructure may become a liability for
self-driving vehicles. For example, how does an autonomous truck respond
if a traffic signal goes out, or if a policeman directs traffic? Detection
technologies must step up several levels to make more “human”
decisions in these scenarios, and some critics worry that these new technologies
won’t keep up.
Legal implications. Not only must we address safety concerns with self-driving trucks—we
must also address liability concerns. If a truck fails and causes an accident,
who is legally responsible for the resulting damage, injury or death?
Industry leaders are currently trying to get ahead of this question by
calling for new forward-thinking legislation and trucking regulations to be put in place, making it easier for attorneys
to navigate this new territory when the time comes.
Whether or not self-driving trucks become a reality shortly, we must remain
vigilant. For more on this topic, see our post on
Trucking Safety: Big Rig Regulations.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck-related accident, we
can help. Call our
Washington D.C. personal injury attorneys
for more information.