Driverless cars have been hitting American roads at an increasing frequency. Now, companies are testing fully autonomous semi trucks. Long haul trucking is a crucial part of our supply chain—but can we trust the technology?
According to the National Safety Council, 4,842 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes in 2020. That’s up 33 percent since 2011. Large trucks account for nine percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes.
The case for driverless semi trucks
Many people are wary of driverless vehicles, period—let alone vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds. However, companies like TuSimple, Waymo and Plus are launching pilot programs for driverless semis. These autonomous trucks currently employ human drivers, in case of emergency, but we should expect to see unmanned semis on the road within the next decade, if not sooner.
Will driverless semis keep us safer? Proponents say yes. After all, thousands of people are killed every year in semi truck crashes, and long haul truck drivers are often pushed past their mental and physical limits to meet deadlines. Removing the human element could make it possible to keep the trucks on the road, well past the limits of human endurance.
On the other hand, the technology isn’t quite there yet. Some driverless semis have been involved in inexplicable crashes, while other groups are worried that the technology will displace human truck drivers. The technology could eliminate up to 500,000 jobs, even if drivers shift to “last mile” delivery instead.
Liability issues with driverless semi trucks
All of these issues create novel liability questions. As driverless vehicles increasingly hit the road, lawyers are concerned about who can be held responsible when something goes wrong. If a driverless semi is involved in an accident, who bears liability?
In typical truck accident cases, lawyers identify the cause of the accident, then work to hold that person, company or other entity responsible. With driverless semis, no one yet knows who will bear liability. It might be the company that manufactured the trucks, the company who created, installed and maintains the technology or the trucking company who owns the fleet. Accident victims may be able to hold all three entities responsible—but at this time, it’s difficult to predict how future cases will be handled.
If you’ve been involved in an accident with a driverless vehicle or semi truck, the Law Offices of Tim Misny can help. Call today to get started.
Discuss your case with an Ohio truck accident lawyer
The Law Offices of Tim Misny can help you with your truck accident case. When you’re the victim of negligence or recklessness, I’ll Make Them Pay!® Call my office at (877) 944-4373 so that I can evaluate your case right away.