While many people may be hearing about self-driving trucks for the first time, savvy truck accident attorneys have been watching industry changes closely. Autonomous trucks have actually been undergoing road tests in several states since about 2016. Many states, including Michigan, are already permitting autonomous vehicles to be tested and operated on state highways. However, the scope of how these vehicles may currently be used in the state is still very much restricted.
How safe are these driverless vehicles? Are they ready to be on the road without a human backup driver? Learn more, including what new crash risks these autonomous commercial vehicles could add to our roads.
At Jay Trucks, we are deeply committed to helping the injured. If you suffer harm in a collision with a self-driving truck, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your injuries. Contact our law offices to learn if you may have legal options. There is no cost for this meeting and no upfront payments of any kind if you choose our firm to represent you.
What is a Self-Driving Truck?
Self-driving trucks are still part of a young and growing industry. However, they are already known by many names. You may have heard them called automated or autonomous vehicles. Some people simply call them driverless trucks.
Self-driving trucks are armed with artificial intelligence, GPS, and high-tech sensors. This computerized driving system scans the roads for hazards in a way that no human can and without the need for taking a break. The ultimate goal is to allow autonomous trucks to navigate roadways across the U.S. without a human driver.
What Are the Benefits of Driverless Trucking?
Corporations in support of self-driving trucks say that there are many benefits to these vehicles, including:
Less Chance for Human Error Could Mean Fewer Truck Crashes
Using autonomous trucks reduces the risk of human error or negligence. For instance, self-driving trucks may reduce the risk of trucks following vehicles too closely or running red lights. They also lessen the risk of truckers driving while drowsy or impaired. Additional issues that may be addressed include the significant driver shortages that continue to plague the truck driving industry.
More Efficiency in Transporting Goods and Services
The use of self-driving trucks could increase efficiency in the supply chain. Companies that need to move more cargo in less time will be able to do so, with fewer drivers and fewer casualties. That is a situation that would benefit almost everyone.
Self-Driving Trucks Could Operate during Off-Peak Hours and Reduce Traffic Congestion
Self-driving trucks could be scheduled to operate during off-peak hours once they are cleared to transport cargo without human drivers on board. Using fully automated trucks in this way could help to reduce traffic congestion.
What Disadvantages May Result From a Self-Driving Truck Industry?
With new technology, there are always some drawbacks, and introducing fully automated semi-trucks does have some disadvantages.
The most obvious drawback is that hundreds of thousands of truck drivers could find themselves without jobs. This is a hotly contested subject, mostly by analysts who believe the self-driving truck industry will create more trucking jobs, not less.
There may truth to this as, at least initially, there may still be a need for professional truck drivers. For instance, companies may need experienced truckers to help monitor and handle more complicated routes. For the near future, at least, it may also be necessary to have human truck drivers on board in case something goes wrong.
Another drawback is that, unlike the current trucking industry, self-driving trucks are still only regulated at the state level. This means, among other things, there are no federal regulations to help ensure driverless trucks are properly maintained.
What About Liability if a Self-Driving Truck is Involved in a Crash?
Currently, victims of a serious truck crash may seek compensation from multiple parties, including the liability insurance of the truck driver and trucking company.
There will still be insurance policies to cover these vehicles and the trucking companies. However, determining who the liable party is if a crash occurs will likely become even more complex.
This process of how to handle liability will continue to evolve, especially because self-driving trucks crash uncommon forms of negligence, such as:
- Driverless trucks that are not properly maintained could malfunction
- Data systems, lasers, and other computer parts could be defective
- A truck’s computer system could be hacked
Are Autonomous Semi-Trucks Safer or Do They Add More Crash Risks?
Whether or not self-driving trucks are safer remains to be seen. In theory, these vehicles could help to eliminate thousands of truck crashes each year, or more.
As with any type of technology, however, these vehicles and the computer systems that run them are bound to have vulnerabilities and flaws. One big concern many people have is how easy it would be for a hacker to illegally gain access to an autonomous truck’s computer system. If this were to happen, it could result in catastrophic damages.
Injured in a Crash With a Semi-Truck? Our Firm is Ready to Help
Whether you are injured by the negligence of a truck driver or a failed computer system, we are ready to help.
Our qualified truck accident lawyers in Michigan are knowledgeable and always prepared to fight for the maximum possible compensation for your damages.
Call our firm today at (989) 244-0440 to set up your free case review and get answers to your legal questions. We have recovered over $500 million for our clients, and we are ready to help you.