Everyone who has driven on to Interstate 10 in Beaumont knows that the biggest, most dangerous vehicles are those enormous 18-wheelers. The big rigs are difficult for truckers to maneuver safely and because of the tremendous weight of the lumbering vehicles, slow to bring to a stop. Far too often, truck drivers engage in risky driving behaviors to try to get to their next destination on time – and those unsafe behaviors can result in violent commercial truck accidents, severe injuries and fatalities.
There are companies hard at work on developing automated 18-wheelers that would significantly reduce (or even eliminate) trucker-caused crashes. Even during the global slowdown of business activity due to the coronavirus, some of those firms are able to continue their research, and development of software, sensors and other technological advances that would enable large commercial trucks to transport goods without drivers.
One of those companies working on driverless big rigs is nearly 2,500 miles northwest of Beaumont in Mount Vernon, Washington. Engineers at the Paccar Technical Center recently put through its paces an autonomous Kenworth rig outfitted with light-sensitive, lane-detecting sensors and a computer generating artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, calculations and adjustments.
The goal at Paccar and at other firms working on driverless 18-wheelers is first and foremost to dramatically reduce trucking industry costs. That would be accomplished by eliminating (or at least significantly decreasing) the need for truck drivers and the health insurance, unemployment insurance, etc., that is needed to employ them.
Fuel costs would also be reduced and fleet efficiency boosted by autonomous rigs. For those of us who share the interstates and other major highways with commercial trucks, roadway safety would also be improved by driverless trucks.
No one knows yet when these technologically advanced trucks will be ready to roll, but in theory, at least, they will eliminate the following current common causes of commercial truck wrecks:
- Trucker fatigue: usually the result of truckers driving too long, too far in order to meet employer expectations and demands
- Impairment: as well all know, drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs are some of the most dangerous people behind the wheel – and when they’re behind the wheel of a big rig, the dangers rise exponentially
- Distracted driving: when the trucker pays more attention to an in-dash fleet-tracking system, phone, GPS or on-board infotainment system than to the road
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a drowsy, distracted or drunk truck driver, contact a Beaumont attorney experienced in obtaining maximum compensation in personal injury litigation.