While there may be benefits to self-driving semi-trucks, there are still a lot of challenges with the technology
Technology is always growing and evolving—so much so that the once outrageous idea of having autonomous vehicles (AV) on the road isn't so farfetched today. But just like any other type of technology, there are pros and cons. And with large 18-wheelers, one of the biggest concerns around automation is the added risk of truck accidents.
Every year, the Truckload Carriers Association hosts a convention and provides insights from panels of truckload executives. At this year's convention, the panel discussion was titled "Revolutionized Trucking: Realizing the Influence of Autonomous Vehicles on Commercial Trucking."
According to FleetOwner, the panel believes AVs fit perfectly in the market and have the potential to help reduce traffic accidents involving tractor-trailers and other large commercial vehicles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) notes that in just the U.S. alone, truck accidents cost more than $30 billion a year.
And while many truck accidents are caused by a negligent trucker speeding, driving distracted, driving fatigued, or otherwise being reckless, it's reasonable to wonder how safe it will be to share our roads and highways with self-driving semis.
One of the biggest benefits proponents of autonomous semi-trucks point to is that there will never be a shortage of professional truck drivers, and trucks using self-driving technology would not be subject to any federal hours of service regulations since the human factor of fatigue is taken out of the equation.
Saving on fuel is another benefit. Experts say AVs are efficient driving vehicles that would reduce fuel consumption in comparison to standard semi-trucks.
Lastly, supporters claim the detection systems found in AVs can help improve safety and actually reduce the risk of collisions. Again, this sounds great on paper. But even with the best technology, accidents involving tractor-trailers can and still will happen.
The construction and development of an autonomous driving system is a task in itself. Building the autonomous driving system from the ground up along with a new vehicle is one option. Another option, which could bring even more challenges, is integrating the autonomous driving system into older vehicles.
Different state-specific regulations also pose a problem. For example, states like Texas, Florida, and Arizona have shown support for AVs by allowing their wide use and operation. Meanwhile, other states like California and New York are much more restrictive, which creates a patchwork of regulations for carriers to follow.
Of course, those issues are minor compared to the safety concerns of an 80,000-pound 18-wheeler barreling down the highway without anyone behind the wheel. Right now, autonomous commercial trucks aren't completely driverless and have self-driving features that a human can turn on or off. Truckers are still actually inside the semi, but the self-driving systems could eventually eliminate the need for experienced and skilled drivers.
Other valid questions remain, such as "how will autonomous trucks handle things like tire blowouts and other malfunctions?" and "who's liable in a crash with an autonomous truck?"
The reality is, there are still a lot of unknowns with regard to the technology, even with a push to deploy these trucks in limited use within the next few years.
Talk to a truck accident lawyer if you've been injured
Truck accidents can be some of the most severe types of accidents that happen on our roads. Often, the injuries sustained by victims are severe, and the impact those injuries have on the victims' lives is drastic.
That's why if you were injured or a loved one died in a crash with an 18-wheeler, you should talk to a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to get a clear understanding of your legal rights and options. You may be entitled to significant compensation, but without an attorney to help fight back against the trucking company, you could end up having to pay for your losses out of pocket.
Recovering financial compensation for expenses like medical bills, vehicle repairs, and replacement income should be the least of your worries. That's where we come in to help.
Let McDaniel Law Firm, PLC fight you. We believe in providing personalized attention and working closely with our clients. Our attorneys have more than 50 years of combined experience protecting the rights of truck accident victims, and we would be honored to talk to you about your potential legal case.
Contact us today for a free consultation. Our office is located in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and we proudly serve clients throughout Northeast Arkansas (including Paragould, Craighead County, Lawrence County, Greene County, Mississippi County, Poinsett County), Northwest Arkansas (including Bentonville, Fayetteville, and Rogers), all of Arkansas, Southeast Missouri, and Memphis, Tennessee.