Truck drivers in West Virginia may be looking at more flexible regulations regarding on-duty and drive-time hours when autonomous trucks become part of the industry, but the American Transportation Research Institute says that infrastructure must be upgraded before the vehicles can become a reality. This includes better signage, smoother highways and devices for communication between highways and vehicles, and the organization believes that the costs should be borne by government rather than by private industry.
The ATRI said that drivers did not need to worry about job security. People will still need to be in the cab of the vehicles while they are in operation, but they can work on other duties there such as logistics. Driver fatigue and accidents related to human error are expected to go down. Other problems that may be solved include highway congestion and parking shortages for trucks.
Regulations will also need to be reviewed and issues ranging from liability to cybersecurity must be addressed. One critical factor will be avoiding conflicts between state and local laws and ensuring that the free flow of commerce remains unhindered.
There may be a significant decrease in truck accidents and fatalities related to truck accidents when trucks are fully autonomous. At present, truck driver fatigue is a leading cause of collisions, and in many cases occupants of other vehicles are seriously injured as a result, requiring extensive and expensive medical treatment. People who have been injured in an accident caused by a truck driver who was behind the wheel for an amount of time in excess of that allowed by federal regulations may want to meet with an attorney in order to determine how best to seek compensation for their losses.