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Could self-driving trucks reduce truck accidents?

Many people in Lexington may have slowly noticed technology overtaking roles once held by people. For example, many grocery stores now have self check-out lines, where customers can scan, bag and pay for their items at a kiosk, rather than having these transactions handled by cashiers and baggers. Also, many jobs in the manufacturing industry that were once held by people have now been replaced with robotics. However, one group of researchers thinks, that within the next 10 years, automated technology could be installed on semi-trucks, replacing the role once held by truck drivers.

Trucking is a big industry. According to the American Trucking Association, as many as 3.5 million people drive trucks for a living. However, the Los Angeles Times reports that by 2027, 1.7 million truck drivers will lose their jobs to self-driving trucks. In fact, one company, Otto, has created self-driving trucks that can go a long time without necessitating a human operator.

The impact on jobs aside, according to some, self-driving trucks are reportedly more efficient and could possibly keep America's roads safer, as they would cut down on drowsy driving. Currently drowsy driving is the cause of one in every seven deadly truck crashes. However, this also raises interesting liability questions. If a self-driving truck causes a car accident, who will be held responsible? If the self-driving truck is still being controlled in part by a human, would that person be liable? And, would the self-driving truck company also be liable?

It remains to be seen how these questions will be answered. What is certain, though, is that as long as there are semi-trucks on the road, there is the potential for truck accidents to occur. When they do, injured victims may want to make sure they take the legal steps necessary to protect their rights.

Source: Mic, "When will automation take over the trucking industry? Scientists now have an estimate," Susmita Baral, June 19, 2017

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