Is Autonomous Truck Driving Technology Safer Than a Human-Driven Truck?

The future is here now that we have companies like Uber and Waymo making self-driving cars a reality. If you go to big cities like San Francisco, you might look over to the car next to you at a stop light and notice that there is no driver. Now that this once impossible sounding concept is reality, it raises many questions about safety, what this means for other motorized vehicles like trucks, and if there are risks or legal implications. 

One industry that is curious to venture into the self-driving landscape is the trucking industry. Trucking companies are constantly looking for new ways to maximize efficiency but sometimes it can come at the cost of drivers safety. Could autonomous truck driving technology be the answer to maximizing efficiency and safety?

Trucking Accidents Happen Often

Trucking accidents happen everyday. These types of accidents are among the most catastrophic because of the sheer size of a 60,000 pound semi-truck. Historically in trucking accidents, the truck driver causes the crash however the passenger car suffers the consequences in terms of injury and death. There are a variety of reasons that trucking accidents occur, but most commonly it is due to driver fatigue, distracted driving, speeding, improper loading, and equipment failures. Most of these reasons for trucking accidents involve an element of human-error, so could autonomous-driving trucks lead to safer roads?

What Are The Benefits of Self Driving Trucks?

There are numerous benefits to self driving trucks as they could help improve efficiency and safety. Self driving trucks could travel off of peak hours which would help reduce traffic congestion on busy roads. Additionally, they wouldn’t need to take rest breaks and would never run the risk of drowsy driving. Without a human behind the wheel, the issue of operating a truck under the influence would be eliminated, distracted driving wouldn’t be an issue, and speeding wouldn’t happen. 

What Are The Risks of Self Driving Trucks?

There are some risks and unknowns when it comes to self-driving trucks. First, there are conflicting ideas on how they would affect the job market for truck drivers. Some people think it would negatively impact jobs and leave thousands of workers jobless. However, others believe it would create more jobs since there are some aspects that autonomous trucks wouldn’t be able to do such as the start and end of long trucking hauls. Another issue is the legal implications. If an autonomous vehicle were to cause or be in an accident, the question of liability is uncertain. It could take longer to sort out legal questions than for the trucks to be ready to deploy on our roads. 

The Future of Truck Driving

Autonomous truck driving could only be a few years away and it seems promising. Self-driving trucks eliminate risks of accidents caused by human error which could reduce the rate of trucking accidents by up to 90%. However, the biggest barrier to their entry in the trucking industry is legal uncertainty. Autonomous trucks seem to offer a promising outlook overall by offering a solution to trucking accidents, higher efficiency for trucking companies, and the possibility of more jobs in the trucking industry.