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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Is there a driver in truck?

On behalf of Noland Law Firm, LLC posted in truck accidents on Thursday, July 2, 2015.

Sometime soon, you may see two trucks driving on I-70, westbound from St. Louis, headed to Kansas City or points much further west, that appear to be traveling too close for safety's sake, one right behind the other. This might not be a case of a truck driver tailgating, but of "platooning."

Platooning uses technology to allow the leading truck, which still employs a driver, to control the speed and braking of the following truck, which also contains a driver. Platooning allows the second truck to "draft" with the first one, in a manner similar to that used by bike racers. This results in a fuel savings of as much as 10 percent for the second truck.

While this technology is available today, the ultimate goal is likely to be a driverless truck. The industry, which currently employs millions of drivers is could save a great deal if they could remove drivers from the cabs of trucks.

But there is another type of savings that would result, that of lives. Almost 4,000 people died in large truck accidents in 2013, and many of those truck crashes are a result of human error, such as distracted driving, fatigued and drowsy drivers and alcohol and drug use.

A truck, controlled by a computer, could drive as long as its fuel supply lasts and would never grow tired or inattentive. There remains a large question as to whether the public's acceptance of driverless platoons of semis moving across roads such as I-70 will arrive soon, but smaller steps will occur.

Active brakes, lane-guidance and platooning with live drivers already exist, and as the technology matures, they could eventually lead to driverless trucks. While this may seem like a unthinkable change, consider how cellphones have moved from exotic to ubiquitous.

Source: detroitnews.com, "Trucks flirt with driverless features," Michael Martinez, June 29, 2015


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