Self-driving commercial trucks are a reality that could soon be seen on public roadways. Yet in spite of promises made by autonomous vehicle manufacturers, self-driving vehicles have so far proven unpredictable and dangerous for the public. While self-driving trucks may have the benefit of preventing truck driver error, this new and untested technology could encounter many hiccups – ultimately placing the public at risk.
Pros of Self-Driving Semi-Trucks
Driverless commercial trucks have great potential for benefitting the trucking industry, the economy and the public as a whole. One example is the efficiency that self-driving trucks could bring to the shipping industry. It could resolve current issues that plague the industry and drain resources, such as the truck driver shortage. It could also improve efficiency by eliminating driver hours-of-service regulations, which require a certain number of rest and meal breaks.
Arguably, self-driving trucks will also enhance safety by eliminating driver error, which is the number one cause of trucking accidents. Truck drivers may cause catastrophic collisions through mistakes and acts of negligence such as texting and driving, driving while fatigued, speeding, violating road rules, and driving under the influence. An autonomous truck would arguably resolve these issues by eliminating truck driver error.
Cons and Potential Dangers of Self-Driving Trucks
The idea of a commercial truck that drives itself opens a world of possibilities for the trucking industry. However, autonomous trucks are not necessarily safe for other drivers or the public – especially not yet. Industry experts believe that driverless vehicle technology still needs significant testing before it is ready for the road. Unfortunately, truck manufacturers and tech companies are attempting to speed up the process and cut corners to be the first to debut a self-driving 18-wheeler.
Currently, self-driving technology has many issues and bugs that need to be worked out before a vehicle as dangerous as a large truck is put on the road without a human driver. The technology still needs to be tested, improved and fine-tuned. Proof of this exists in the hundreds of crashes that have been linked to self-driving motor vehicle technologies thus far, including autopilot and driver-assist systems. With the increased risk of catastrophic and fatal collisions connected to large trucks, there is an even greater need to ensure the safety of autonomous technology before it is used.
Another issue associated with self-driving trucks is a lack of safety regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has overseen common carrier regulations for many years. There are hundreds of rules in place pertaining to the safe operation of a large truck. However, there are not yet any federal rules in existence for self-driving or autonomous trucks. Until more is known about how these trucks operate and perform, they will remain largely unregulated.
Who Is Responsible for an Accident Caused by a Self-Driving Truck?
The safety of self-driving commercial trucks has yet to be seen. Several major manufacturers have projected autonomous semi-truck debuts over the next few years, meaning the public will soon discover how safe – or not-so-safe – these driverless vehicles really are.
If a self-driving truck gets involved in an accident, such as during beta tests on public roads, a victim may be able to file a lawsuit against one or more parties. Previous driverless technology lawsuits have been brought against vehicle manufacturers, tech companies and the humans assigned to supervise the driverless technology.
In this new and constantly evolving field of truck accident law, the best way to protect yourself after an accident is by hiring an experienced New Mexico truck accident attorney to represent you.