Autonomous Trucks Doublespeak; Legal Implications and Financial Repercussions

Is the trucking industry engaging in autonomous trucks doublespeak in that it claims to need professional truck drivers while simultaneously developing technology to replace them?

Driver-controlled vs. Driverless vehicle. What about truckers and autonomous (self-driving) trucks?If a truck is truly autonomous, then why did the first “self-driving Class 8 truck” have a full sleeper berth area and driver’s seat?

Why has at least one article been written about how professional truck drivers in these vehicles can do other things behind the steering wheel?


Basic Questions Regarding Autonomous Trucks Doublespeak

On August 28, 2015, we asked through our Facebook page these questions in response to an article — about how the path will be “smooth” and the “human element” will be important regarding autonomous trucks:

If the ‘human element’ is going to be important in the use of ‘autonomous trucks’:

  • Will truckers be paid more, the same or less than they’re currently earning to ‘babysit’ one?
  • How ‘autonomous’ can the trucks truly be?
  • Will the Hours of Service regulation still apply?
  • What situations will require the trucker’s intervention?
  • Will the truck ever override the driver’s actions?





Legal Implications and Financial Repercussions for Truckers

There are numerous legal implications for drivers of “driverless trucks” or “self-driving trucks”.

  • Who is responsible if the truck makes a critical “decision” that the trucker would not have made — and the truck becomes involved in an incident or accident?
  • What happens if another vehicle cuts in front of the autonomous truck too closely?
  • What sequence of events would follow and could the truck ever be involved in a more costly accident than the trucker would have been had he/she been in control?
  • How will an autonomous truck “react” to being operated in certain weather conditions, particularly rain, fog, snow, sleet and wind?
  • If a trucker is ticketed or fined for his/her role in operating an autonomous truck when the truck is involved in an incident or accident, what sort of legal argument could be offered in his/her defense?
  • After an autonomous truck is involved in an incident or accident that it caused, will the trucker’s
    • CSA score take a hit?
    • MVR include the accident?
    • Future trucking applications have to include that accident?
    • Personal auto insurance rates go up?


Other Technology

We’re sure there are many other issues that will need to be worked out.

For example, by how much will “vehicle to vehicle” (or V2V) technology have to improve before autonomous trucks are completely reliable?


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