Did You Know? - Trucking Accidents and Autonomous Trucking
May 12th 2023
Autonomous trucking has been a topic of intense discussion in the transportation industry for quite some time. The technology has the potential to revolutionize the industry by making transportation safer and more efficient. However, there are concerns about the safety and reliability of self-driving trucks. In this blog, we will explore how safe autonomous trucking is in North America and the pitfalls ahead.
One of the most significant concerns with autonomous trucking is the lack of human oversight. While self-driving trucks are equipped with sensors and cameras that can detect obstacles and other vehicles on the road, they cannot anticipate every possible scenario. This means that there is a risk of accidents occurring due to unforeseen circumstances.
Another concern with autonomous trucking is cybersecurity. As self-driving trucks rely heavily on technology, they are vulnerable to cyber attacks. Hackers could potentially take control of the trucks and cause accidents or steal valuable cargo.
For the purpose of the statistics below, large trucks can be defined as follows: “Any medium or heavy truck, excluding buses and motor homes, with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 10,000 pounds. These large trucks include both commercial and non-commercial vehicles. In 2020 72% of the large trucks involved in fatal traffic crashes were heavy, large trucks (GVWR > 26,000 lbs.).”  In 2020, there were 4, 965 people killed in crashes which large trucks were involved, where 71% of people killed in large trucks crashes in 2020 were the occupants of other vehicles . Furthermore, 76% of the fatal crashes which involved large trucks in 2020 occurred on weekdays (Monday at 6 am to Friday at 5:59 pm) .
One of the biggest challenges for autonomous trucking in North America is the lack of infrastructure. Furthermore, building and deploying self-driving trucks is a very difficult endeavor. It will cost on the order of hundred of millions of dollars a year . According to Steve Viscelli, an economic and political sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania who specializes in trucking, “there are so many issues that in reality are far more complex than they might seem on paper” .
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 Truck Safety Facts. 2020 Data. https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813286#:~:text=In%202020%20there%20were%204%2C965%20people%20killed%20and%20an%20estimated,traffic%20crashes%20nationwide%20during%202020.