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Automation in large trucks may reduce operator interaction

When you are near a semitruck on the highway in New York, it may cross your mind to hope that the driver is not distracted or fatigued. You probably did not wonder whether there is even a person in the driver’s seat, though. We at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers understand that new technology could change the role of truck drivers, and in the future, it may reduce the number of commercial vehicle crashes.

While self-driving trucks are not on the road yet, CNBC reports that technology for tractor-trailers has taken a step in that direction. Your car’s aerodynamic shape gives you some relief from high fuel prices by increasing your miles per gallon. Large trucks take much more fuel, but by driving closer together, they reduce the wind resistance on each and improve their efficiency. Rather than traveling an average following distance of 200 feet, which is a two- to three-second space, platooning trucks would be a mere 50 to 80 feet apart.

To make it possible for them to follow each other without compromising safety, new technology links the trucks through a computer so that the first driver controls the convoy's brakes and steering. While truck platooning is in the early stages of development in the U.S., you will not see more than two trucks connected at a time.

Even though the trucks are so close together, in heavy traffic you could see a vehicle cut off the second truck by squeezing into the space between them. If this happens, the computer automatically breaks the connection, and the driver in the second truck takes over his or her own controls at that point. The second driver also has the ability to manually disconnect from the lead truck at any time.

You may not be driving next to a truck platoon in New York yet, but the system is already being tested in some states. Federal and state legislation has yet to address how the practice of linking trucks may require adjustments to traffic laws. More information about semitrucks and safety is available on our webpage.

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