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Are Driverless Big Rigs in Our Future?

November 27, 2019

For years the United States has played with the idea of driverless Big Rigs, and now a few companies employ them in major cities. While it's true that many do have to have a person in the vehicle for monitoring purposes, they are still technically "driverless."

But what about Big Rigs? Not only do people rely on these giant trucks for transporting goods across the nation, but they fuel many industries making it possible for our economy to continue to thrive. What would happen if truckers were suddenly put out of work, though? Are driverless Big Rigs in our future?

Electric Trucks, Really

An ongoing theme of driverless vehicles is that they’re electric. That means they know exactly how long they can go without a charge, rather than gauging or estimating how far a Big Rig can go on diesel. Kodiak Robotics already started exploring the options for self-driving and electric commercial delivery vehicles to route between Dallas and Houston.

Ohio usually isn't far behind when it comes to new additions in trucking and vehicles. However, self-driving trucks seem to have stringent laws that keep them in check. Kodiak Robotics reported that they wouldn't be taking these Big Rigs out of state, given that other states should have the opportunity to implement their own regulations and expectations.

News for Fatalities and Stats

The big question that people have is whether or not these will pose a greater or lesser risk to ordinary drivers. Deaths from trucking accidents are on the rise in recent years, and it's likely due to many distractions and increasing demands on the drivers. That doesn’t mean that no-driver is better than a tired-driver, but that is an argument that these manufacturers are making.

Between 2016 and 2017, the fatalities in large trucks rose by 9%, which is remarkable because, for a long duration of time, they were declining.

What This Means for Crash Victims

Right now, when you're in a crash with a Big Rig in Ohio and nearly every other state, you have a complex process. First, you file a claim and police report. Then your insurance company attempts to work out whether it was the trucker or the company’s fault.

Things have changed significantly in the last twenty years for truckers, and now many companies are able to skirt responsibility. Even in the event that the company placed undue stress, or the driver felt he might lose his job if he didn’t stretch his hours beyond the legal limits, they may get off without a scratch.

After your insurance company decides who they’re going to pursue compensation from, you will likely receive a very low settlement offer. Usually, people give up at this stage and take the offer to avoid further issues.

However, if these trucks were to go driverless, the resolutions process would look very different. Companies would no longer have a driver to blame. They would have the opportunity to shift responsibility or put their high-powered legal team to work, trying to shift the blame to you.

Instead, the company would be the only option for compensation, and it's likely that their insurance coverage would be much more expansive than it is now because of the nature of the vehicle.

There is a major concern, however, as there are already cases of self-driving cars being involved in fatal crashes. Throughout 2018 and early 2019, there were many in Arizona, mostly including pedestrians. It's possible that the pedestrian didn't have the right-of-way or that there was something which made the car err on the side of staying on the path. However, it does come down to the question of whether or not these trucks should have a human in the seat to override the system in the event of a possible crash.

Crash with a Big Rig? Contact an Ohio Attorney

A local attorney will know not only local traffic law but also the extent of your state's laws for Class A drivers. While most passenger vehicle drivers don't know the extent of a truck driver's legal restrictions, a lawyer will.

After a crash with a truck, you need a lawyer or team of lawyers that can stand up to the high-powered legal team the trucking company has on hand. They no doubt will fight your claim, tooth, and nail, in an effort to keep their record clean and minimize any payout. However, you still need the compensation necessary to manage your recovery. Contact Young, Reverman, and Mazzei to start fighting this case.

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