Truck platooning, an emerging safety technology which has made impressive showings in Europe, is now coming to America.
The Federal Highway Administration recently announced successful tests of three-truck platoons in Centreville, Virginia, just miles outside of the nation’s capital. These partially-automated trucks raise interesting questions about the future of trucking on the roads of America, where the volume of freight moved by trucks is expected to more than double over the next 25 years. Platooning and other autonomous technologies have the potential to significantly reduce truck accident rates on the roads of the United States.
What is Truck Platooning?
According to Reuters, truck platooning is a process by which large trucks travel together, one behind the other, in order to save fuel. The trucks are digitally connected to one another, and the automated driving features improve safety for all drivers on the road. Eventually, platooning technology will allow for one lead vehicle to be piloted by a live driver, while drivers in the trucks behind sleep or rest. While the regulations that would allow such autonomous fleets are still a long way off, the trucking industry could see a significant return on investment for autonomous technologies when those changes do come. There is also a huge efficiency potential in being able to move cargo without federally mandated rest breaks.
Truck platooning tests have already begun in Europe, where the European Truck Platooning challenge has done much to publicize the technology. Automotive World reports that the United Kingdom will allow platooning tests in 2018. Here in America, nine states currently allow platoon testing, and Oregon is the latest state to join the fray. Trucks.com reports that Daimler, a German automaker, has received permission from the Oregon Department of Transportation for its truck division to test platooning technologies on public roadways. This permission was granted after successful trial runs were conducted at Daimler’s proving grounds in Madras, Oregon. Many more states are expected to follow suit, and Arizona plans to allow limited commercial deployment.
The Legal Rights of Truck Accident Victims
As autonomous vehicle technologies improve and expand, it is important for accident victims to understand that they have legal rights against any party who is legally responsible for causing the accident in which they were injured. This can be an individual driver, or the transportation company which employs the driver, or state of local government which failed to maintain the roadway in a safe condition.
Accident victims may also have claims against the manufacturer of an autonomous technology which malfunctioned, or against a distributor which placed untested technologies into the marketplace.
While legal cases will have to adapt to the unique circumstances created by new autonomous vehicle technologies, the legal principles will remain the same. Accident victims have the legal right to compensation from the person or entity that was legally responsible for causing their injuries.
Contact an experienced Houston truck accident attorney as soon as possible after any truck-related crash. It is important to identify the causes and parties responsible for the accident, in order to protect a victim’s right to be compensated for all injuries and losses.