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Could Driverless Trucks Prevent Deadly Trucking Collisions?

Collisions involving large trucks like 18-wheelers or semi-trucks are often deadly, especially when the crash involves a motorist in a smaller passenger vehicle like a sedan or a compact car. Indeed, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) emphasizes that large trucks tend to weigh about twenty to thirty times as much as a passenger car, making the impact of a collision devastating. In addition, big rigs often have a significantly greater ground clearance than passenger cars, which means that a smaller passenger vehicle may be likely to “underride” a truck, with devastating consequences, in a rear-end collision. 

Given the severity of large truck accidents, researchers and safety advocates have focused on ways to prevent these wrecks from happening. In recent years, technological innovations like telematics and fleet monitoring systems have been used with an eye toward reducing the number of 18-wheeler crashes. Most recently, a focus has turned to self-driving large trucks. Could driverless trucks actually reduce the rate of collisions on highways and major roads in the Atlanta area? Our Atlanta truck accident lawyers can provide you with more information.

What Are Driverless Trucks?

Before we discuss the accident prevention benefits of driverless trucks, it is important to understand what a driverless truck entails and how these vehicles are currently being tested and used. According to a recent article in The New York Times, tech start-ups have been developing self-driving trucks in collaboration with trucking companies across the country. Testing on these driverless trucks has already begun, but only with “safety drivers” sitting in the passenger seats who have, thus far, “grabbed the wheel multiple times” in testing scenarios. 

Most recently, as the article explains, “a self-driving eighteen-wheeler spent more than five straight days hauling goods between Dallas and Atlanta.” On the truck’s test trip, it “traveled more than 6,300 miles, making four round trips and delivering eight loads of freight.” During the driverless truck test runs, the benefits of these autonomous vehicles became clearer, including an elimination of drowsy or fatigued driving collisions that often plague large truck drivers, and the elimination of distractions caused by boredom while driving. Yet the vehicles are not yet ready for the roads without those “safety drivers” in the front seats to intervene when necessary.

On the whole, self-driving trucks are currently best suited to highway driving, which is where fatigued and distracted driving crashes tend to occur more frequently. On highways, there are “long, uninterrupted stretches [that] are easier to navigate than city streets teeming with stop-and-go traffic.” Yet trucks do have to travel on smaller roads to make deliveries, and researchers suggest that fully autonomous trucks are still years away.

Liability for Drowsy and Distracted Truck Driving Crashes

Until driverless trucks become a reality, trucking collisions will continue to result from fatigued or drowsy driving, as well as from distracted driving. These crashes can occur at high speeds on highways, as well as on local roads around Atlanta. Who is liable? If you are injured in a large truck crash anywhere in the Atlanta area, you could be eligible to file a claim against one or more of the following parties:

  • Truck driver;
  • Employer of the truck driver;
  • The mechanic who worked on the truck;
  • The company responsible for loading the trailer;
  • Maker of the truck or one of its parts;
  • Retailer of the truck or one of its parts;
  • Another passenger vehicle driver who caused the collision; or
  • Owner of the roadway or premises where the crash happened.

Contact an Atlanta Truck Accident Attorney Today

If you or someone you love gets hurt in a trucking collision, one of our experienced Atlanta truck accident attorneys can assist you with your case. Contact Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys online today or call us at (404) 529-3476.

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