What Happens When Semi-trucks Become Automated?

If you are enamored with the prospect of being behind the wheel of a self-driving car, you are certainly not alone. Buyers are lining up in droves to purchase the Model S and the Model X from Tesla, the American automaker producing high-end, zero-emission vehicles. The “semi-automatic” autopilot function will guide the car with minimal input from the driver. So the next time you pass a Tesla on the street or on I-95, you may wonder who’s driving: the car or the driver.

If you are fearful of such vehicles, consider this: just like the race to make autonomous cars mainstream,  automated trucks may be seen on American highways in short order. In fact, a scene out of the movie “Logan” gives us a glimpse into the future.

If that actually happens, what happens to truck drivers?

Chances are that truckers will be remote “operators” who monitor the truck’s functions from afar and take control of them when necessary, much like drone pilots in the military.

But even though a truck driver’s role may evolve, the duty to use reasonable care in controlling the truck certainly will not change. Future truckers will still be responsible for operating the vehicle like a reasonable person would. This means that they must limit distractions, abstain from alcohol or other mood-altering substances prior to (and while) monitoring or controlling a remote truck, and they must mind applicable speed limits.

In the meantime, if you have questions about your rights and options after a semi-truck accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can advise you.


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