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Obstacles to automated trucking

Colorado residents may have read about the ongoing development of autonomous trucks. In a report released in November, the American Transportation Research Institute indicated that these technological advances will have a dramatic impact on the trucking industry. While the wide-scale introduction of automation may be a reason of concern for workers in the industry, the ATRI stresses that truck drivers will continue to have a major role. In fact, humans will still be required in truck cabs for a variety of reasons, including troubleshooting the technology.

However, before truck automation technology becomes a standard, there are a number of issues that have to be addressed first. Upgrades to road infrastructure are some of the primary hurdles. Well-built highways, instruments for highway-to-vehicle communication and more efficient signage are all needed in order for autonomous trucks to work as they should. According to the ATRI, the investment that is required for such upgrades is the responsibility of the public sector. Additional issues that must be resolved include reliability, cybersecurity and maintenance of autonomous technology. Uncertainties regarding crashes and liability must also be addressed by courts and regulators.

The wide use of autonomous technology may also result in the reduction of driver fatigue and an enhanced flexibility of on-duty limits for truck drivers as it could allow productivity and rest to occur at the same time. Federal regulations such as the 30-minute break, the 11-hour driving limit and weekly limits for on-duty and drive-time may see substantial reform.

Although it is hoped that autonomous technology will dramatically reduce the frequency of trucking accidents, that day has not yet arrived. In the meantime, occupants of other vehicles will continue to be seriously injured in crashes caused by negligent truck drivers, and they may want to have the help of a personal injury attorney when seeking compensation for the losses that they have incurred.

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