When you are driving on the interstate highways that connect Raleigh to other parts of North Carolina and the nation, there is no doubt that the vehicles pose the greatest risks to you and your passengers are the behemoth 18-wheelers. Tractor-trailers are difficult to stop and hard to maneuver, but they are essential components of transportation and commerce.
Hopes to make those giants of the pavement safer are pinned, in part, on efforts by Waymo – Google’s autonomous vehicle company – and similar tech firms. Waymo recently announced that it is returning its self-driving big rigs to the road after a two-year hiatus. The company hopes that autonomous 18-wheelers will reduce the number of truck accidents, injuries and fatalities on the nation’s highways.
Of course, their goals involve more than safety concerns – they hope to market their technology to trucking companies eager to reduce overhead in the form of fuel costs, insurance and the nation’s 3.5 million truck drivers.
Waymo also believes that its autonomous vehicles have the potential to significantly reduce (and maybe one day eliminate) road congestion that is itself a major cause of fuel waste.
The company says it is returning its self-driving 18-wheelers to the Arizona freeways in the Phoenix, Arizona metro area, but that it plans to slowly expand from there. No one knows how soon we might see autonomous tractor-trailers in the Raleigh area, but it seems very likely that if the tests in Arizona are successful, the self-piloted rigs will spread across the country.
For now, 18-wheelers are as dangerous as ever. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a crash involving a commercial vehicle, contact a Raleigh lawyer experienced in personal injury litigation.