Self-Driving Semi-Trucks Hit The Road: Do They Increase Or Decrease Road Safety?

Posted by Jeremy Rosenthal | Mar 14, 2016 | 0 Comments


Imagine that you're driving on a three lane highway on your way to work in the center lane. It's early in the morning, barely light outside, and you notice two 18-wheeler semi-trucks up-ahead – one in the far right lane and one in the left. You feel intimidated because you know you're going to have to drive between the two big rigs. But, it's nothing you haven't done before, you can see the trucks' mirrors and you're confident the driver can see you. However, as you glance up to your right and left while passing by the trucks you observe something truly terrifying … neither truck has a driver, at least one that you can see!

This is not a nightmare; this is reality and the way of the future – self-driving and drone trucks.

In May of last year, Daimler Trucks unveiled the first self-driving semi-truck known as the Freightliner Inspiration. The demonstration occurred on top of the Hoover Dam.

The Inspiration is not quite driverless …. yet. Rather, the truck still requires a driver to safely enter the highway before hitting the Freightliner's “highway mode.” From there, the truck uses multiple radar systems and a complex stereo-camera in order to avoid collisions and other lane deviations. The truck's system monitors and regulates speed, brakes and steers the truck itself. However, when it comes to switching lanes and exiting the highway, the truck driver must take over.

Daimler Trucks and supporters of the self-driving technology believe that trucks like the Inspiration will severely cut down on drowsy truck drivers. Drowsy truck driving is one of the leading causes of thousands of deadly truck accidents every year. Now, instead of developing a bad case of white line fever, truck drivers will be able to focus on more stimulating tasks while operating their big rigs.

While Daimler has championed the self-driving but not yet driverless truck, Volvo has recently demonstrated that it has the capability of creating a completely driverless truck known as a drone truck.

Colorado has plans to soon begin using drone trucks as barrier trucks in highway construction projects. Barrier trucks are the ones that follow behind lead trucks doing the actual roadwork (like stripping) to ensure that if any truck is rear-ended by a highway driver, it will be the barrier truck. This offers protection to workers on the back of the lead truck, and now that the barrier trucks are driverless, will ensure no barrier truck drivers are injured.

Though Daimler says it will be a few years before a fleet of self-driving trucks hit Colorado's roadways, you can expect to see drone barrier trucks in Colorado by the end of 2016.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, you should hire an experienced personal injury attorney who will fight for the compensation you deserve. The personal injury lawyers at the Law Office of Jeremy Rosenthal have experience representing clients in all types of personal injury cases, and will fight hard to gather the evidence you need to prove your case and obtain the compensation you deserve. Call us today for a free consultation at (303) 647-4511 or visit us online.

About the Author

Jeremy Rosenthal

Attorney Jeremy Rosenthal is dedicated to helping his clients seek just compensation for their injuries regardless of the lengths he has to go to or the distances he may have to travel in order to get it.


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