Truck manufacturers and software developers are claiming that self-driving trucks are some of the safest vehicles on the road and that autonomous technology is taking care of driver shortages in New York and other states. Even so, critics say that not enough information is available to guarantee that the risks are not too great.
Continued concerns over safety
There are thousands of yearly fatal crashes that involve commercial trucks weighing several tons or more. Despite the risks, manufacturers have shown that self-driving trucks are safe. Several tests have shown that autonomous commercial trucks can travel for nearly 100 miles on public roads without a human driver.
Potential threats to safety
Safety advocates say that self-driving trucks may contribute to increased rates of motor vehicle accidents. Even if truck drivers were present, they would allow the vehicle itself to do most of the work for them. They would not notice the smallest problems on the road or act fast enough to prevent collisions.
Self-driving software can malfunction as every other computer does occasionally. While driving on the road, software that glitches or shuts down completely may lead to a fatal crash, especially if no human driver is present. It’s also expensive for small companies to maintain the computer tools.
More tests are needed
The idea of self-driving cars has been generally accepted by the public, but the idea of self-driving commercial trucks, which weigh several tons and carry piles of heavy cargo, is less accepted. Many fatal accidents involve truck drivers who have years of experience. Traffic safety experts are asking for more tests and time to decide if automated trucks are really safe to put on roads and highways.