As technology continues to change at a rapid rate, many companies are eager to deploy autonomous vehicles and self-driving cars on the roads, in the hope that it will lower costs and decrease accident risks. These changes may be coming faster than you think, too: In January, Google subsidiary Waymo announced plans to test a fleet of self-driving semi-trucks in Texas.
With over 65,000 truck companies operating in Texas today, autonomous semi-truck vehicles could result in massive job layoffs and other changes for the trucking industry. But changes in employment are far from the only concern about self-driving vehicles: According to a 2013 survey performed by CarInsurance.com, at least 64% of drivers said computers were incapable of making the same quality of decisions as human drivers, and 75% said they wouldn’t trust a driverless car with taking their children to school.
Will Self-Driving Semi-Trucks Decrease Accidents?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported in 2017 that there were approximately 450,000 police-reported large truck crashes in 2017, with at least 23% of those crashes resulting in injuries. In a 2007 Large Truck Crash Causation Study, the FMCSA discovered that 87% of all large truck crashes involved some degree of driver error, whether on part of the truck driver or another vehicle operator.
By removing drivers from behind the wheel, autonomous vehicles could drastically reduce the risks of injury and death – and this is especially true in the case of truck accidents, where catastrophic injuries such as paralysis and brain injury are more common. One study published by the RAND Corporation argued that even if self-driving cars only increase road safety by 10%, they will save more lives than waiting for a higher confidence level. However, the lack of testing has made it difficult for researchers to pinpoint exactly how safe self-driving cars and trucks will be.
How Accident Claims Could Change in the Future
Without drivers, the legal landscape for car accident claims will change soon, too. Instead of holding individual drivers accountable for causing crashes, victims of self-driving car accidents may be required to file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer instead. This could come with some unique challenges, as product liability cases tend to be highly technical in nature, particularly when they involve auto defects.
The grounds for these self-driving vehicle lawsuits could range from a failure to warn consumers to claims about “defective code.” Although these justifications will vary from case to case, one thing will remain consistent. In the future, attorneys who represent accident victims will likely need to be ready to stand up against large-scale manufacturers and vendors – and they will need to show juries exactly how a self-driving car could have fatal defects.
Powerful Advocacy for Truck Accident Claims
At The Ammons Law Firm LLP, our attorneys are already well-versed in a range of auto defect claims, including tire defects, rollovers, seat belt failures, and airbag defects. Because we have over a decade of experience litigating complex product liability claims, we’re ready to help assist individuals who have been hurt in self-driving truck or car accidents. By staying up-to-date on the upcoming changes in law and technology, we will be prepared to offer the strong legal assistance that accident victims deserve.
Call (281) 801-5617 to schedule a free consultation with our accident team today.