The trucking industry is always looking for ways to improve efficiency and cut costs – and truck platooning has recently emerged as a potential game-changer. But, is it safe?
Truck platooning involves the synchronization of multiple trucks through the use of advanced wireless technology like radar, cameras and vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems. By maintaining a very short following distance between each truck, the lead vehicle sets the pace and navigation, while the following trucks respond to the lead.
This concept holds potential benefits such as reduced air resistance, which can lead to improved fuel efficiency and decreased greenhouse gas emissions – and it could allow for a more seamless flow of traffic. But the practice is not without its dangers. Chief among them:
While the autonomous and semi-autonomous technology used for platooning has made significant strides, those things are not infallible. Technical glitches, sensor malfunctions and software errors could disrupt the coordinated movement of platooning trucks, leading to horrific accidents. There’s also the potential for a system to be hacked, which could also be disastrous.
Although platooning is designed to minimize human intervention, the following vehicles are not fully autonomous. A human driver still has to sit in each of those cabs and guide the vehicle through its motions. There’s a real risk that boredom could lead to distracted or drowsy driving that could cause a serious wreck.
A major concern arises when platooning trucks need to make sudden and evasive maneuvers, such as avoiding debris, pedestrians or accidents. Coordinating such maneuvers across multiple vehicles could prove challenging, potentially leading to chain-reaction collisions.
There’s no question that other drivers can be anxious when they have to drive near even a single semi, so having to drive near a whole chain can be very nerve-wracking. Drivers in passenger vehicles may struggle to stay out of the platoon’s ever-larger blind spots, and that can also lead to wrecks.
Truck accidents have the potential to devastate lives. When the stakes are high, it’s always wisest to seek experienced legal guidance.