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Tractor-Trailers on Auto Pilot: Concern over Self-Driving Trucks

Commerce shows no sign of slowing down. The need to have commodities flow to consumers in the market has brought about innovative services to aid in this economic flourish. One such area is the emerging era of the automated truck. One of the main reasons this level of automation is being focused on is because of the financial costs to trucking companies of paying human truck drivers for days and weeks at a time, compounded by the general shortage of qualified truck drivers.

The concern for many is the risk that driverless trucks pose on our roads and highways. Heading into new and unpaved territory could also mean truck crashes involving these massive vehicles and the legal complications involved.  

The New Age of Automation

It is estimated that we may be sharing the road with self-driving tractor-trailers within the next five to ten years. As the reality of automated trucks gets closer, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) is in the process of developing specific regulations that will need to be put in place. Some of the questions these regulations will need to address include:

  • Who would be held liable in the event of an accident involving an autonomous vehicle?
  • How will the human driver in the passenger seat stay alert and avoid becoming bored during several hours of riding in the passenger seat?
  • What type of modifications will need to be made to current limitations on a driver's hours of service since he or she will no longer actually be behind the wheel?

Areas for Further Analysis

While the industry is still in its premature stages and possible federal regulations still being studied, the FMCSA is also analyzing other key areas that will need to be addressed such as licensing, safety features, inspections, investigation criteria, and required specialized skill sets and training. These items will all need to be determined before approval of driverless truck programs can be put in place.

As more and more organizations are granted permission to initiate testing programs, it becomes more likely that you may encounter a driverless truck sometime in the near future. With testing, comes the risk of crash, such as the recent accident that occurred during the very first hour of a Las Vegas self-driving shuttle bus last month. And with crashes, comes the high risk of injury.

Contact a Virginia Truck Accident Attorney

If you have been injured in any type of truck accident, contact a Virginia truck accident attorney to discuss what legal recourse you may have. Truck accident cases can be complex and it is not uncommon for there to be multiple at-fault parties who are responsible for the payment of financial damages you may be entitled to for your injuries. Our personal injury firm has successfully represented many injured victims and their families and we are happy to meet with you and offer legal guidance on what the best options may be for your circumstances.

Richard N. Shapiro
Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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