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Driverless trucks being tested for safety

A self-driving semi is being tested in Ohio. What does it mean for road safety?

In the traffic safety world, self-driving cars have become a hot topic and consistent point of contention. Test drives and data suggest that driverless cars have the potential to reduce vehicle accidents and deaths – but is America ready for self-driving cars?

Some tech companies are jumping straight to self-driving trucks. A company called Otto has created a Volvo semi that can drive itself completely autonomously. Last week, Ohio Governor John Kasich recently kicked off testing of a self-driving Otto truck on two stretches of the Ohio Turnpike.

According to Digital Trends, there will be a human being inside the truck to take over controls should any dangerous incidents arise. But early safety reports look promising and the truck has already made a successful first delivery by a driverless commercial vehicle.

Can a self-driving truck eliminate human error?

Otto is equipped with sensors that process data about surrounding traffic. The truck “knows” what other vehicles are around, how fast they’re going and their exact position – which allows it to maintain a safe distance. And because computers process information in milliseconds, the truck will also have a faster reaction time than any human driver. Proponents of the trucks believe these advantages can prevent serious accidents and injuries.

While these vehicles don’t need a driver, it is unlikely that truly driverless trucks will be hitting the road any time soon. It is more likely that drivers will be present to respond to any hazards, as they are during testing.

Who is responsible for accidents involving self-driving vehicles?

If these trucks supposedly operate without error, it could have implications for people who are injured because of them. Can an accident victim hold a trucking company accountable when the vehicle supposedly reacted perfectly in an accident? We expect to see many legal issues involving self-driving vehicles in courts across America as they become more common.

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