Self-driving vehicles have been in the works for several years. While some vehicles now offer autopilot functionality, the feature has yet to be rolled out across all car manufacturers. As self-driving large trucks and 18-wheelers slowly begin to roll out in Texas and New Mexico, how these new autonomous vehicles will affect drivers across the Lone Star State has yet to be determined.
Former Google self-driving car project Waymo has become a stand-alone brand that focuses on producing fully autonomous, self-driving vehicles. The company is behind the launch of a fleet of autonomous semi trucks in Texas and New Mexico. The trucks will rely on maps charted by Waymo as they travel along Texas’ major roads and highway systems.
While a future including self-driving trucks may mean lower costs, less traffic, and potentially less accidents, safety remains a major concern. The state has nearly 65,000 trucking companies in operation and no current regulations on self-driving vehicles; making Texas a great fit for testing these new autonomous trucks despite their overall safety being up for debate.
Self-Driving Safety Concerns
Concerns over self-driving vehicle safety are nothing new. In 2016, a self-driving Tesla Model S hit a trailer while on autopilot, killing its driver, as the cameras in the vehicle were unable to distinguish the trailer from the sky behind it. In 2018, a pedestrian was hit and killed by a self-driving Uber operating autonomously with a driver in the car. The incident occurred because the vehicle did not have the capability to classify an object as a pedestrian unless it was near a crosswalk.
On average, more than 4,000 people in the United States die in trucking accidents every year, most often due to human error. Though autonomous vehicles are not perfect, in most instances they are less flawed and slightly safer than human drivers. One advantage of self-driving trucks is that sensors can be placed atop the cab, making it easy to see over traffic and far ahead. However, when considering autonomous commercial trucks, which will primarily operate on busy freeways, it isn’t as clear just how safe they will be.
Though technological advancements have increased the abilities of autonomous vehicles, poor weather conditions and human-to-human interactions have yet to be perfected by sensors and cameras. For instance, as demonstrated by Tesla’s 2016 fatal accident, bright sunlight can briefly blind cameras. Snow, ice, and sand also have the potential to throw off laser sensors within the vehicles; and, the vehicles are unable to interpret the facial expressions and gestures of other drivers to predict their driving behavior.
While self-driving cars have limitations, self-driving trucks at highway speeds with limited maneuverability could be extremely dangerous. Truck drivers often spend months in driving school and have to spend thousands of miles driving with a supervisor before taking full charge of a big rig. Because of this, matching the functionality of an autonomous truck to a human truck driver’s skill can be difficult.
Lubbock Truck Accident Attorneys
No matter if a self-driving or human operated truck causes an accident, the effects can be devastating. Trucks weigh much more than passenger vehicles; and, when driving at high-speeds, they have the potential to cause serious injury and kill other on the roads.
At Liggett Law Group, we have extensive experience successfully handling trucking accident cases. Our legal team will work to hold the trucking company and other parties responsible for damages caused by their negligence. If you or someone you know was injured in a trucking accident, contact the attorneys at Liggett Law Group today for a free consultation.