As recently reported in the Wall Street Journal, a new Silicon Valley startup led by one of the founders of Google’s self-driving car program is aiming to retrofit existing 18-wheelers with autonomous driving technology. Other companies are already in the process of developing the technology to role new self-driving heavy trucks off of the assembly line.

At this point, driverless technology is kind of old news. Companies like Google, Tesla and others have been pioneering the self-driving vehicle industry for several years now; and, with regulators getting on board, several sources are predicting that there will be millions of auto-piloted vehicles on the road by 2020.

There is a good chance that this will include a significant number of autonomous 18-wheelers. In fact, as noted by the Wall Street Journal, a handful of states have already approved fully-autonomous commercial trucks.

What Happens When an Autonomous Truck Causes an Accident?

While proponents of driverless technology are quick to point out the safety benefits of taking the wheel out of human hands, undoubtedly, autonomous vehicles – and particularly autonomous heavy trucks – present several unique risks as well. Retrofitting old 18-wheelers with self-driving technology seems to present an entirely new set of risks, and only time will tell if these risks ultimately lead to accidents on the road.

In any event, as a driver or passenger who is injured in a truck accident involving an autonomous vehicle, it will be essential to hire an experienced legal team to conduct a thorough investigation and identify the person, company or companies responsible for your losses.

For example, consider the following scenarios:

  • Scenario #1: A truck driver on a long haul decides to take a rest wheel, trusting his 18-wheeler’s autonomous technology to avoid any collisions. While he is asleep, the truck’s defective brakes fail, and the truck causes a severe rear-end accident.
  • Scenario #2: A truck driver who is fully alert sees an accident happen up ahead. She attempts to perform an evasive maneuver, but the truck’s self-driving technology overrides her manual input resulting in a collision.

In the first scenario, was the truck driver negligent in letting the truck take over? Is the trucking company to blame for letting its driver spend too much time behind the wheel? Was the accident the autonomous technology’s fault? Or, were the defective brakes to blame?

What about the second scenario – is the autonomous technology at fault here? Could the driver have avoided the accident if the technology hadn’t intervened?

Protecting Your Rights After a Collision Involving an 18-Wheeler

These are all hugely complicated questions, and ones that will become more and more prevalent as autonomous 18-wheelers hit the road. But, one thing you can be sure of is that the trucking companies will have teams of lawyers on their side. Protecting yourself will require having experienced legal representation of your own – lawyers who know the issues and who have the knowledge and commitment necessary to fight for the compensation you deserve.

Have You Been Injured in a Commercial Truck Accident? Schedule a Free Consultation

If you have been injured in an auto accident involving a commercial truck in Florida, a Crestview auto accident attorney with Powell, Powell & Powell, P.A. is available to help. For a free, no-obligation consultation, call (850) 682-2757 or contact us online today.