The politics of driverless trucks

Considering the countless trucking accidents caused by driver error every year, it's understandable that the driverless vehicle revolution would move its way into the commercial trucking industry. However, it could mean that truck drivers will one day be out of a job. It's for this reason that truck drivers tend to be against the idea.

Nobody wants to be replaced by a computer, but when you look at the driver safety statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it's clear that 94 percent of vehicle accidents happen because of driver error. If driver error could be eradicated, just think of how many lives it could save. In 2015 alone, approximately 40,200 people died in motor vehicle accident-related incidents.

When you consider that a driverless truck won't get drunk, sleepy, distracted or break the rules of the road, it's clear to see how a driverless semitruck could save lives. In fact, many drivers would argue that it's worth it for truck drivers to lose their jobs if it means that thousands of lives could be saved every year. Nevertheless, truck drivers are understandably not happy about the prospects of losing their way to earn a living.

Last year, a self-driving truck owned by Uber delivered 50,000 beers in Colorado. Even though a driver was present due to the fact that the autonomous pilot can only drive on the highway at this point, it seems that we could be closer to the autonomous trucking revolution than we think.

Ultimately, as autonomous trucks become the norm, they won't be 100 percent accident proof. Therefore, many questions about liability will arise in the wake of such a crash. Will the owner of the truck be liable to pay for damages? Will the truck manufacturer be liable? Or, maybe multiple parties will need to foot the bill for such an incident.

Source: Forbes, "Labor Groups Put Brakes on Life-Saving Driverless Trucks," Matthew Feeney, accessed Dec. 29, 2017

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