posted in Truck Accident, by Claude Wyle, on March 23, 2018
I live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the busiest ports in America. San Francisco, along with Oakland, is a hub for domestic and international commerce, where cargo arrives daily by ship from all around the world and is loaded onto American trucks destined north, south and east, in a seemingly never ending web of shipping lanes. But, a crucial part of this shipping network, the American truck driver, could soon disappear forever.
As motor-vehicle and technology companies race to provide and to monetize self-driving trucks in the United States, the trucking industry, which moves 70% of our nation’s goods, could soon be turned on its head, with 3.5 million truckers potentially being out-moded and obsolete.
Proponents of the self-driving vehicle movement believe that self-driving trucks are on the horizon, and are chomping at the bit to disrupt the $700 billion freight industry by removing the most expensive, and arguably the most dangerous element, the human drivers. So, are all of the drivers going to be fired, or is the interim step to have drivers sitting at the wheel but not actually in control of the truck? Would self-driving trucks allow for a human ride along who could potentially be asleep at the wheel?
The thought of driver-less trucks concerns me greatly, not just for the massive job loss, but for the potential increase in truck accidents and injuries and deaths on the road. Will self-driven trucks cause more truck accidents and more truck injuries and more trucking fatalities?
“I’ve driven 4 million miles, and yet every day I head out there’s always some new situation I have to deal with,” says Dick Pingel, 64, a driver with over half a century of trucking experience. And although he welcomes this new technology, he does wonder: “Can it really distinguish between a deer and a child and always make the right call?”
Has any one of us ever had a computer fail? Have any of us ever had a phone glitch? Do any of us really want a massive truck in the lane next to us with no human in control? With Uber’s recent pedestrian fatality in Arizona involving their self-driving car pilot, I wonder the exact same thing. Are we really chasing progress, or are we just asleep at the wheel?