Will Autonomous Trucks Really be Safer?

a truck driving down a multi-lane highway

The increasing development of autonomous technology has led to questions about the safety of these types of vehicles, particularly in the trucking industry. There are several factors to consider when determining whether or not autonomous trucks will be safer than those operated by human drivers.

Advantages of Autonomous Trucks

Driver Fatigue

Self-driving trucks could make our roads much safer by preventing driving fatigue. Long-haul trucking is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States, and driver fatigue is a leading cause of accidents. Autonomous trucks would never get tired and never need to take breaks. As a result, they would be much less likely to be involved in accidents caused by driver fatigue.

Decreased Congestion

Many freight companies operate 24 hours a day, which means trucks are already on the road at night. If these trucks were autonomous, they could drive during off-peak hours when there is less traffic. This would free up the roads for other vehicles during peak hours.

Collision Avoidance

While completely autonomous vehicles are not on the roads yet, autonomous technology continues to advance and become implemented into vehicles to prevent dangerous collisions.

  • Lane departure warning (LDW) systems are designed to alert drivers when they stray from their lane. This can be especially useful on long trips or in unfamiliar territory.
  • Adaptive cruise control is a more advanced form of cruise control that uses sensors to monitor the speed and distance of the vehicle ahead. It then automatically adjusts the speed of your vehicle to maintain a safe following distance.
  • Automatic braking systems (ABS) use sensors to detect when a truck is approaching another vehicle or object and automatically apply the brakes if the truck driver does not respond in time.

Disadvantages of Autonomous Trucks

Vulnerability to Cyber Attacks

One of the key concerns around the development of autonomous trucks is their potential vulnerability to hacking. If a malicious actor was able to gain control of a self-driving truck, they could commit theft or cause significant damage and disruption. The size and weight of these vehicles mean that they have the potential to cause severe accidents and even large-scale fatalities if not properly controlled.

Technology Failure

With an increased reliance on automated features, there is a higher risk for certain technologies to fail. If an automated truck was truly driverless, think of the consequences if the vehicle became uncontrollable. Not only would it put the driver in danger, but also any pedestrians or other drivers on the road. While automated features are designed to make our lives easier and help us avoid potential accidents, their reliability is not guaranteed.

Complications with Liability

As autonomous trucks become more common on the roads, the question of liability in the event of an accident becomes more pressing. Who is responsible if a self-driving truck gets into an accident? Is it the truck's owner? The truck's manufacturer? The software company that developed the autonomous driving system?

There are several possible scenarios, and the answer may vary depending on the circumstances. If it can be shown that the accident was caused by a malfunctioning component in the truck, then the responsibility may fall on the truck's manufacturer. If the accident was caused by a flaw in the autonomous driving system, then responsibility may fall on the software company. In some cases, multiple parties may be held liable.

The issue of liability is still unresolved regarding fully autonomous trucks, but as they become more common, it is likely that we will see more cases of accidents involving these vehicles. As these cases make their way through the courts, we will start to get a better understanding of who is responsible in these situations.

If you were involved in a trucking accident that resulted in injury, contact us today at (314) 684-8285 or fill out our form online.

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