In the future, the roads will be populated by self-driving trucks. These are vehicles that do not have drivers and are instead governed by a software program. Like with conventional vehicles, there will be a risk that self-driving trucks will be involved in accidents. Like with trucks driven by motorists, self-driving trucks may be involved in accidents and there may be unique legal implications for accidents involving these types of vehicles.
Based on the tests that have been performed over a 6-year period, self-driving vehicles have had fewer accidents than the average vehicle and the damage resulting from all of these accidents has been minimal. In most cases involving an accident between a self-driving truck and a motorist, the motorist will likely be at fault. However, it is possible that there may be a defect in the software that causes the truck to make a mistake that leads to an accident. If a defect is proven to be the cause of the accident, the manufacturer or software developer would be found responsible for the accident. To prove this, it may be necessary to hire an expert witness who is able to examine the source code to determine what caused the accident. Talking to an accident or personal injury attorney, like Monohan & Blankenship, would be a good way to know how to handle a situation like this.
Adverse Weather Conditions
Another consideration is the weather conditions. For those parts of the United States that have more extreme weather conditions, it can be difficult for self-driving trucks to adapt. Therefore, it will be necessary to factor weather conditions into determining who is liable for the accident. Manufacturers will still be responsible for creating trucks that are able to effectively adapt to adverse weather conditions. An example of this being a problem would be during a pileup. The self-driving technology would need to anticipate a pileup and be able to slow down at an appropriate moment to avoid colliding with the other cars and contributing to the pileup.
For self-driving trucks to be safe, roads also need to be modified. They need to be made smoother and the signage needs to be improved so that the self-driving trucks can more effectively identify when they must turn off of a road. However, if these infrastructure changes are made, the roads will also be safer and there will be fewer accidents because motorists will have an easier time navigating the roads themselves. Still, the introduction of self-driving cars may lead to legal issues that have not even been foreseen yet.