The main challenge faced by a transport company is how to keep the deliveries moving yet keep safety levels high. Drivers want to earn more by staying on the road; however, this invites a greater possibility for truck accidents.
What if your trucks could drive themselves part of the time while the driver gets a good night’s sleep in the cabin? Could killing two birds with one stone help avoid semi truck wrecks while allowing a driver to log twice as many miles be the answer?
Self-driving technology aimed at increasing efficiency while reducing semi truck accidents could be around the corner and the trucking industry is on the fence about it.
Trucks That Drive Themselves - A Novel Idea?
Self-driving technology became widely known due to Tesla’s self-driving car; however, did you know it is also being tested in tractor trailers as well? Otto (which was recently acquired by Uber), the company leading the way in this technology, says that with the right function, there is a place on the open highway for these vehicles.
The system would pilot a semi along the highway at a pre-programmed speed, monitoring and reacting to its surroundings while the driver sleeps. It is designed with onboard computers, radar, and lasers. According to the company, the goal is to prevent semi truck accidents while helping commercial carriers be more profitable.
Will Self-Driving Technology Prevent Truck Accidents?
With more sensors, detectors, and other smart technology on board, the concept is that developing self-driving technology will make the truck more aware of its surroundings than even the most cautious driver. This could conceivably reduce the incidence of semi truck wrecks caused by driver error, fatigue, and other driver-related concerns.
The vehicle’s on-board monitoring system would know everything happening inside and outside of the rig and react before truck accidents could happen.
There are certain situations that will continue to require input from the driver. Certain loads must be carefully monitored by a human being to prevent semi truck wrecks. The technology is designed only for use on the highway, not in towns or cities with stop-and-go traffic where more is going on near the truck.
In these instances, the driver would still need to take over. This leaves many in the industry wondering whether self-driving technology would actually reduce semi truck accidents or simply open up different ways for them to occur.
What Do the Drivers Think?
It seems that most drivers are intrigued yet skeptical. Many do not feel that it will prevent truck accidents as there are so many variables constantly involved. Others have the legitimate concern that this changing technology could worsen conditions as drivers learn to embrace and properly implement the technology.
There are many concerns over inconsistencies in federal and state laws governing the use of such technology. Overall, most drivers and many carrier companies are not convinced. They are watching with interest to see how the technology develops.
Although Otto states they are still a long way from finalizing their self-driving technology, the company is hopeful they can make an impact and reduce semi truck wrecks while improving a company’s profit margin. Adding self-driving kits could cost you as much as $10,000 per vehicle, which could be worth it in the long run. Your drivers and everyone else on the road will remain safer with fewer truck accidents and increased efficiency. What do you think?
Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Robert W. Hildebrand, Attorney at Law
J. Daniel Wilson, Attorney at Law
7830 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
Phone: (281) 408-2190