According to a report from the American Transportation Research Institute, autonomous trucks will have a profound impact on the trucking industry. They could be a catalyst for regulatory reform as well as a tool to increase safety and efficiency. However, as humans will still be needed to oversee the trucks, drivers may not have to worry about losing their jobs just yet.
There is no guarantee that autonomous trucks will be widely adopted in the short-term. This is because roads will need to be made smoother and signage improved to make the best use of these vehicles. Furthermore, technology that allows vehicles to communicate with each other will need to become more effective. Whether or not this happens is a decision that the public sector will need to make as state and local governments are in charge of the roads.
If autonomous trucks are widely adopted, they could impact issues related to hours of service. For instance, the 14-hour on-duty time limit as well as the 11-hour drive time limit may be reformed or eliminated completely. Weekly limits as to how often a driver can be on duty might also be changed. Drivers may then be freed up to complete other tasks while on the road.
Individuals who are hurt in a truck accident may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. This could include compensation for medical bills and related expenses such as physical therapy or medication. However, compensation may only be available if negligence played a role in the accident. An attorney might be able to prove that a driver was drunk, distracted or not properly trained prior to the accident that resulted in injuries.