In the coming years, the roads in North Carolina and throughout the U.S. could be more populated with self-driving vehicles for personal and commercial use. The American Transportation Research Institute recently released a report discussing changes that might occur in the trucking industry when autonomous trucks are available.
One of the largest concerns among those in the U.S. trucking industry is jobs for drivers. The report notes that jobs are safe because automated systems require human operators. Additionally, the general public would likely feel safer if a human is present in a large vehicle. Self-driving trucks could actually help workers as they may lead to more flexibility when it comes to hours of service. Regulations currently exist to ensure that drivers only work a certain number of hours. This includes the 14-hour on-duty limit and the 11-hour limit for consecutive driving time to prevent fatigue.
Automated systems might let drivers rest while working, which may allow for more productivity. Drivers may also be able to multitask by working on logistics while on the road.
Fatigue is a big concern when it comes to commercial vehicle operation because drivers often spend long stretches of time on the road. Even minor commercial trucking accidents caused by drowsy driving could be serious and life-threatening due to the size of the trucks. Drivers currently keep logs to track their hours, and falsifying records or driving longer than allowed could make a driver responsible if an accident occurs. The trucking company might also share liability for a wreck.