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Autonomous trucks raise concerns about road safety

Driverless trucks may soon be appearing in Kentucky and across the United States. While the technology to empower self-driving tractor-trailers still needs heavy refinement, there are a number of companies working hard to be first to bring these trucks to market.

Of course, driverless trucks raise new concerns about safety and road-readiness as well. For example, an automated vehicle in a truck crash situation will need to determine through its own logic how to handle an imminent vehicle accident. For this reason, among many others, discussion of autonomous vehicles continues to center on this technology's use as an assistance mechanism for drivers rather than as a replacement.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration held a hearing on autonomous vehicles in the trucking industry. As an agency with a heavy focus on safety, the hearing heard testimony about several issues. One primary issue discussed was whether autonomous vehicles will allow truck drivers to work longer consecutive hours of service. Given that truck driver fatigue is already a significant safety concern, this issue prompted a range of testimony. In addition, some observers also noted that it is possible for inattentiveness and distraction to increase because of the low level of attention needed by the highly automated vehicle.

The hearing also discussed the potential for a special endorsement to a commercial driver's license to operate autonomous vehicles. In this context, concerns about safety took center stage, as well as about experience in handling an autonomous vehicle amid emergent circumstances.

Whether they involve self-driving trucks or traditional tractor-trailers, trucking accidents can cause devastating personal injuries. Those who have been injured as a result of a fatigued or inattentive truck driver should consult with a personal injury lawyer, who may be able to provide advice and guidance in pursuing compensation for the damages that have been sustained.

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