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Autonomous trucks on the horizon

Connecticut truck drivers could soon be a part of an industry in which autonomous trucks will have a significant role, according to a report by the American Transportation Research Institute. An updated infrastructure, better safety and efficiency, legal changes and significant regulatory reform will be some of the side effects of the widespread use of autonomous trucks.

There are a number of issues that have to be resolved before the United States trucking industry will be able to fully implement the automated technology. Infrastructure improvements for road and highways, devices for highway-to-vehicle communication and improved road signs must be in place so that the automated trucks can operate efficiently. The public sector would be responsible for proving the substantial investment necessary for the improvements that are needed, according to the ATRI.

The ATRI also stated in its report that as the autonomous truck technology is commercialized, it is important that local and state regulations allow for commerce and the successful implementation of the technologies that have the potential to increase safety and productivity. Issues regarding crashes and liability will have to be addressed by the legal system and trucking regulators. Maintenance, cybersecurity and reliability will also have to be addressed before automated trucks lead to significant changes to trucking regulations, such as hours of service. Truck drivers should not be concerned about the security of their jobs, according to the ATRI. The automated trucks will still require an operator to be in the cab.

If and when adopted, the technology has the potential of reducing the number of accidents that are caused by truck driver fatigue. Currently, when these types of collisions do occur, an attorney for an injured victim might review the logs to see if the trucking company had forced its driver to exceed federal hours of service requirements. If so, the company could be held financially responsible for the victim's losses through a subsequent personal injury lawsuit.

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