There seem to be new technological innovations every week. From cell phones to smart homes to computers, advances are made in nearly every industry on a daily basis. Many drivers dream of self-driving vehicles to ease the tension of a daily commute. This is doubly so for long-haul truckers who must drive several thousand miles to complete a delivery. However, many individuals are worried that technology simply cannot safely pilot an 18-wheeler in any sort of consistent manner.
It is important to keep several factors in mind as news outlets continue to report on digital advances.
- The government will get involved: While a significant percentage of states have laws in place to allow for the testing of self-driving trucks, the federal government will regulate the changing industry through the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- A driver will stay in the cab: Self-driving might be something of a misnomer. Trucks will be able to operate on autopilot for long stretches of highway; however, it will be years before these trucks will be able to consistently and safely operate in bad weather or construction zones. A Level 5 autonomous vehicle, which the NHTSA describes as a vehicle needing no human help, is still many years away from becoming commercially viable.
- Driving a commercial vehicle requires skill and intuition: Many experts see the truck driver of the future as more of an aircraft pilot. This means that the self-driving truck can be autonomous in most situations but bad weather, construction zones, a narrow mountain pass or a steering-tire blowout will still require a driver to be in control.
Even with all the technological advances being made at an incredible pace, truly autonomous vehicles are still years away. In the meantime, the trucks might make the roads safer. Proven technologies like brake-assist, lane departure warnings and collision avoidance should make the industry as a whole more efficient. If you were involved in a truck accident, it is important that you seek legal guidance from an experienced personal injury attorney.