Indiana drivers may have witnessed something called “truck platooning” on interstate highways without even realizing it. It’s when multiple big-rig trucks travel together closely in line. Currently, some of those trucks can even be automated, or “self-driving.”
One benefit of platooning is that it can increase fuel efficiency. That’s because a truck following closely behind another one encounters less air resistance. Avid bicyclists know the benefits of “air drag” when they ride behind another cyclist – especially one larger than them. The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) contends that truck platooning can “improve national freight movement and the national economy.”
Individual state laws around truck platooning vary. Here in Indiana, the law says that vehicles in a platoon can travel “at speeds and following distances that are faster and closer than would be reasonable and prudent without electronic coordination.”
Potential changes to Indiana law
State lawmakers, however, are considering legislation that would require that all automated vehicles must have “a human safety operator…physically present in the automated vehicle to monitor the performance of the automated vehicle and to intervene if necessary.” Further, that operator “shall meet all state and federal qualifications to operate a motor vehicle and an automated vehicle.”
While automated commercial trucks certainly aren’t yet a common sight on our highways, things are certainly moving in that direction overall. Other states are considering legislation that would loosen restrictions on automated commercial vehicles.
A collision involving an automated commercial vehicle can create even more complex questions around liability than one caused by a traditional vehicle where a human driver is in complete control. Blame is often passed from driver to employer to truck manufacturer and back. If you or a loved one has been injured or worse in a crash caused by a commercial truck, it’s important to have sound legal guidance to help you seek the justice and compensation you deserve.