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FMCSA considers regulatory updates for autonomous vehicles

Proponents of autonomous vehicle systems say that the technology could greatly reduce the number of deadly truck accidents in Georgia and around the country, but they claim that outdated regulations are deterring investors and hindering its development. Regulators from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration heard these arguments and others on April 24 during a listening session organized by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

Hours of service regulations are a particularly thorny subject for autonomous technology advocates because they prevent logistics companies from reaping the savings that self-driving trucks make possible. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association believe that a human operator should be present in every self-driving truck, and this argument is backed up by research that suggests operating an autonomous vehicle may actually be more tiring than conventional driving.

Seizing control of an autonomous commercial vehicle during an emergency situation requires skills that even experienced truck drivers may lack, and some of the speakers at the CVSA workshop called for special credentials to be awarded to commercial driver's license holders who have these skills. Other issues addressed during the session included the adoption of inspection and maintenance protocols for self-driving trucks and how regulations can encourage innovation while protecting road users.

The overwhelming majority of fatal big rig accidents involve the kind of human error that self-driving vehicles are designed to eliminate. The data stored by autonomous vehicle technology may also be used to establish what happened in the moments before a collision and whether or not negligence played a role. When crashes are caused by distracted, intoxicated or fatigued truck drivers, experienced personal injury attorneys may pursue compensation on behalf of occupants of other vehicles who have been harmed.

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