Are self-driving or driverless trucks safer than regular trucks? Transportation officials don’t yet have the data to show whether autonomous trucks are a safe alternative to real, live people behind the wheel. In fact, driverless and self-driving trucks have some safety issues that traditional trucks don’t have.
Latest Updates on Self-Driving and Driverless Trucks
Trucking companies are aggressively pursuing autonomous vehicles because of the significant shortage of truck drivers in the United States. The American Trucking Associations recently reported the U.S. needs an additional 80,000 truck drivers to keep up with demand. Some companies are hoping that driverless trucks could help fill that gap.
Several states have taken steps to allow more autonomous vehicles on the roads. California first allowed the testing of light-duty autonomous vehicles in 2014. The state expanded its regulations to allow companies to operate driverless delivery vehicles in 2019, provided the companies got a permit from the Department of Motor Vehicles. California legislators are considering a proposal to allow self-driving trucks on state highways, which is currently banned.
Other states have followed this trend. In 2019, Florida began allowing driverless vehicles to operate without a safety driver, while the rideshare company Waymo currently operates driverless cars in Arizona. All these states are chasing Nevada, which in 2012 became the first state to allow autonomous vehicles.
Safety Concerns with Self-Driving and Driverless Trucks
While self-driving trucks offer certain safety advantages over those operated by error-prone humans, there remain concerns about potential dangers as companies continue to test and refine these vehicles.
Currently, most states that allow self-driving trucks have regulations requiring a safety driver in the cab who can take over in an emergency. Still, not all states require a safety driver, potentially putting innocent people at risk if the technology fails.
Self-driving trucks must recognize hazards like intersections, pedestrians, and other vehicles, which the software cannot always do. In one incident, a self-driving truck in Arizona suddenly veered left on a highway and struck a concrete barricade. Regulators are investigating the incident.
The Role of a Truck Accident Lawyer in the Age of Autonomous Trucks
Because self-driving and driverless trucks often do not have a human driver behind the wheel, they present certain legal challenges in the event of a collision. With no driver, liability for a crash usually shifts to the company that made the vehicle or designed the software that powers it. This turns self-driving vehicle accident claims into product liability cases, and suing an automaker is much different from suing an individual or their insurance company.
On the other hand, if a person was nominally operating the vehicle, their failure to wrest control from the autopilot feature might allow the accident victim to sue the self-driving vehicle’s operator. The complexities presented by these cases are why you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon after a self-driving truck accident as possible.
Contact a Pasadena Truck Accident Attorney Now
At the Law Offices of Pius Joseph, we understand the challenges of determining liability and recovering compensation after a self-driving truck accident. Our legal team is unafraid to stand up to challenges from big corporations and their attorneys. We’re committed to doing what’s right for injured people. Let us fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation with a truck accident lawyer in Pasadena.