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Self-Driving Trucks To Change Driving As We Know It

Although they have not made their way to Florida yet, self-driving trucks are quickly changing from “the technology of tomorrow” to “the technology of today.” Self-driving trucks will soon find themselves on more and more roads across the country and will change driving as we know it.

Not only will self-driving trucks change the way we drive, but truck accident lawyers will be faced with the challenge of navigating unfamiliar territory without legal precedent. It’s anyone’s best guess how these trucks will perform once a full fleet is released onto American highways.

Self-Driving Trucks To Be Mass-Released in 2019

Tesla is one of the leaders in self-driving technology, and they have invested heavily in their self-driving, electric semi-truck. The company has claimed that the trucks will be able to go 500 miles while carrying an 80,000-pound load on a single charge. Two of the country’s biggest shipping companies, Walmart and J.B Hunt, have placed orders for the new trucks, due in 2019.

This is just one example of the rapidly growing self-driving technology industry. In 2017, over $1 billion has been invested in self-driving and other trucking technologies. This is ten times the amount invested in these technologies three years ago. It makes sense – trucking is a $700 billion industry that has long been searching for ways to improve.

Embark is a start-up which has been testing self-driving technology with Ryder, a truck-leasing company, and Electrolux, an appliance manufacturer. Embark’s chief executive Alex Rodrigues said, “We are trying to get self-driving technology out on the road as fast as possible. Trucking needs self-driving and self-driving needs trucking.”

Accidents May Still Be Unavoidable

Automobile accidents involving trucks are a serious problem across the country, and any self-driving truck would seek to eliminate accidents. There is certainly room for improvement. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 94% of automobile accidents occur because of human error.

It will be interesting to see how human behavior is accounted for in self-driving technology. For example, Las Vegas recently released a self-driving shuttle service that operates on a .6-mile loop around the downtown area. However, on the first day of full release, the shuttle was involved in an accident within its first two hours of operation. This naturally raises natural skepticism about self-driving technology.

The plot-twist in the story is that the accident was not the shuttle’s fault, but a human driver’s fault. The City of Las Vegas released a note saying that the shuttle operated properly and stopped to avoid the accident. The note specified, “had the (human-driven) truck had the same sensing equipment that the shuttle has the accident would have been avoided.”

It raises an interesting question, however. Who would be at fault if a self-driving truck was involved in an accident? What if a human death occurred? Would the owner of the technology be liable for damages? Over the next few years, it will be interesting to see how the courts and attorneys handle personal injury cases when an at-fault party is a machine.

During his time as a public attorney for the State of Florida, Bernard Walsh developed a passion for defending the legal rights of Florida's citizens. Having seen many people being taken advantage of after being injured and the financial harm that can cause for families he committed himself fully to helping injured clients get justice, by fighting to make greedy insurance companies pay what they owe.

Self-Driving Trucks To Change Driving As We Know It

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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