Self-driving cars have been in the headlines for the past few years as companies have begun testing autonomous vehicles. A self-driving vehicle uses sensors, radar, cameras, and GPS systems to navigate the road and other vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycles around them. Now, those same self-driving car companies are expanding their reach with self-driving trucks. What will this mean for the future of autonomous vehicles and for the safety of everyone else who shares the road?
Right now, as companies like Waymo and Tesla are testing their machines, human drivers sit in the cab as a backup, in case the software malfunctions. But the goal is to put trucks on the road that can change lanes and speed up or slow down without a human operator. Since Google first started testing its driverless trucks in 2011, there have been 20 accidents involving their vehicles. Of those 20 accidents, the self-driving truck was at fault for only one of them.
According to the National Safety Council, 38,800 people in the United States lost their lives in car accidents in 2019. The National Highway Traffic Safety Commission reported that 4,678 people died in accidents involving large trucks in 2019. Companies developing self-driving vehicles say that their autonomous technology could help save lives. One such company, Embark, said cutting the driver out of the equation will also cut out human errors such as driver fatigue and distracted driving.
Additionally, trucking companies are seeing a shortage of drivers. There is currently a shortage of about 100,000 truck drivers in America, according to the American Transportation Research Institute. As more current drivers retire over the next several years, this number will only increase.
However, there are still plenty of safety concerns when it comes to driverless vehicles sharing the roads with other drivers. In general, Americans do not trust self-driving cars. Nearly 50% of people surveyed by Partners for Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE) said they “would never get in a taxi or ride-sharing vehicle that was self-driving.” There has not been enough testing done yet to convince drivers that automated vehicles are safer than human-operated vehicles.
Moreover, it is generally accepted that semi-trucks are naturally more difficult to operate because of their length and immense weight. If people are wary of human truck drivers on the highway, it may be a long time before we trust a computer to do the job.
If you were injured in an accident involving a self-driving vehicle, contact the New York City truck accident attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP. Our experienced team will navigate the complex legal process that follows an accident of this nature so you can focus on healing. Call us today at (212) 779-0057.
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