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Autonomous trucks could prevent thousands of accidents each year

Semi-tractor trailers are a common sight on New Jersey highways, and reducing the number of accidents involving commercial vehicles is a major priority for lawmakers, the logistics industry and road safety advocates alike. Autonomous vehicle technology offers the possibility of an accident-free future, and the American Transportation Research Institute released a report on Nov. 15 detailing what needs to be done to clear the way for self-driving trucks.

Self-driving vehicles are lauded as a road safety breakthrough because they eliminate the human error that plays a role in the vast majority of traffic accidents, but the idea of an 80,000-pound vehicle traveling at highway speeds with nobody at the wheel is a frightening one for some. The ATRI report points out that human operators will be required in autonomous commercial vehicles even if they will not be expected to handle the driving duties, but the nonprofit group adds that federal hours-of-service rules may no longer be needed.

The state of the nation's roads and infrastructure was identified by the ATRI as the biggest obstacle to the widespread deployment of self-driving trucks, and the organization also called on state and federal legislators to approach the issue in a consistent manner and avoid a patchwork of contradictory laws and regulations. The ATRI estimates that it will cost truck operators about $30,000 to add autonomous capabilities to a standard tractor-trailer.

Collisions involving commercial vehicles are often horrific, and the injuries suffered by accident victims may leave them unable to earn a living for considerable periods. When a person suffers injury, loss or damage due to the reckless actions of truck drivers or trucking companies, a personal injury attorney may initiate litigation on that individual's behalf. This kind of lawsuit could seek compensation for income lost while plaintiffs were unable to work as well as expenses related to property damage and hospital bills.

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