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Will the advent of automation lead to fewer truck accidents?

Technology is evolving at an impressive rate. Advancements that once seemed to be the stuff of science fiction have now become a part of our everyday lives. This includes advancements in the automotive industry. One of these advancements includes the development of "driverless" vehicles. People in Lexington may wonder whether autonomous semi-trucks in particular are a safer option than traditional vehicles.

There are some benefits to autonomous trucks. Autonomous trucks may reduce the number of truck accidents. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety reports that around 350,000 accidents occur each year. In 2015, truck accidents caused 3,900 fatalities, a 22 percent increase from the number of truck accident fatalities in 2009. Autonomous trucks traveling in off-peak hours could expose the trucks to fewer vehicles and could reduce incidents of driver fatigue.

However, there are those who have concerns about autonomous trucks. According to one professional, autonomous trucks could present a danger. He states truckers need to have 100 percent of their energy focused on the road, keeping an eye out for other drivers or those who have pulled over to the shoulder of the road. He doesn't believe an automated system would be able to anticipate and react properly to every situation that a truck driver might encounter while driving.

Time will tell if autonomous trucks will become more commonplace, and whether they are more or less safe than traditional semi-trucks with drivers. That being said, if an autonomous truck causes an accident, it raises new liability questions. Would the victim be able to sue the owner of the truck? The manufacturer of the truck? The person operating the truck, if there is one? One thing is for sure, any truck accident has the potential to be catastrophic. It is important to identify the responsible parties, and hold them accountable.

Source: Freight Waves, "Examining the benefits, risks of the autonomous truck," Steven Banks, Oct. 4, 2017

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