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Are Self-Driving Trucks Relatively Safer?

A Proposed House Bill Could Set That Precedent

There has been a great deal of contention behind the idea of self-driving cars, especially self-driving semi trucks, on the road. Many companies and organizations are concerned about the impact on the job market since a Goldman Sachs report earlier this year reported a potential impact of 300,000 jobs lost each year. Other companies see self-driving cars as the answer to a growing driver shortage and a way to increase their slimming profit margins. However, the question of self-driving cars' safety has also been an important factor, especially as far as individual drivers and the general public are concerned. 

How will the proposed bill measure driverless car safety?

The House's legislation, set for an October 4 vote, caps how many self-driving vehicles automakers are allowed to introduce into the market. The first year will have a cap of 25,000 vehicles which will rise to 100,000 in the following two years. But that gradual release will only continue so long as the companies prove the cars are safer than their traditionally-driven counterparts. 

While the increased allowance for self-driving cars does not address the heavy trucks market, it establishes a precedent that may establish the safety standards for all autonomous vehicles. This barrier might be lower than what concerned organizations have hoped for but more to the point than either side expected. The safety standard becomes even more important as policymakers increase their focus on safety regulations and more routine inspections for semi-trucks.

This legislation would side-step many of the questions and the demand for objective safety norms in favor of comparative studies: so long as self-driving cars are safer, they are allowable. While heavy-duty trucks would face greater scrutiny just as semi-trucks now face more regulation than passenger vehicles, the change to self-driving trucks itself might also be based on an argument of relative safety. For more news about not only changes in technology but the regulatory concerns that follow, go to Carolina International Industry News.


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