Although it sounds like the stuff of science fiction films, self-driving trucks may be closer to a reality that you understand. There are several companies which are testing self-driving trucks and those who are in favor of them say that autonomous trucks will be safer. Each year there are thousands of truck accidents where people sustain serious injuries and deaths. In 2015, there were 415,000 police-reported crashes involving large trucks in the United States. Of those crashes, 3,598 were fatal and 83,000 were crashes with injuries (FMCSA)
At the Transportation Research Board conference in Washington, D.C. in January 2017, panelists predicted that our future with self-driving trucks is a mere five years away. In October 2016, a self-driving truck drove a cargo load of beer across the country under state police escort. The autonomous truck made the cross-country journey between the hours of midnight to 3 am to encounter as few other vehicles as possible. The U.S. Department of Transportation has appointed a new advisory board on autonomous vehicles to offer their expertise to government regulators.
A story on NBC Chicago reported that the Illinois General Assembly is considering a bill (HB2747), which would legalize autonomous driving and create regulations prior to the vehicles hitting the roadways.
Autonomous trucks could eliminate the biggest cause of truck accidents–human error
There is one important advantage that autonomous trucks, which are operated by a computer equipped with cameras, sensors, radar, accelerometers, GPS and object detection technologies, would bring and that is safety. The biggest cause of truck accidents is driver error. Truck driver fatigue is a huge issue in a job that is so physically and mentally exhausting. Self-driving trucks do not get sleepy and they can detect accidents ahead, and brake when they see that traffic has slowed ahead of them. Self-driving trucks would likely be used on long-haul trips across the country giving the driver a chance to handle some of the other tasks involved in driving a truck and step in to take the wheel when warned by the computer to do so, and when they get close to the end of the trip when they must leave the highway and navigate city streets and interact more closely with other drivers and pedestrians.
There are still legal questions that must be addressed when it comes to insuring autonomous trucks and who will be responsible should they cause a collision with a human-driven vehicle? It’s both an exciting and a frightening prospect of living in a world where you will begin to interact with robots on the highway. But it seems worth the initial time of adjustment if self-driving trucks can help cut back on the thousands of injuries and deaths that occur each year in the U.S. in truck accidents.
At Gainsberg Law, P.C., our skilled Chicago truck accident attorneys fight for justice on behalf of our clients. If you are looking for aggressive representation after a truck accident injury, look no further. We invite you to call 312.313.1621 or fill out our contact form now.