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Will autonomous trucks be on the road soon?

For years, auto industry leaders have discussed the future of autonomous vehicles and related policy. Currently, most passenger vehicles are only partially automated, ranked by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Now, trucking industry leaders are pushing for a seat at the table.

In an attempt to address trucking safety, the American Trucking Associations President and CEO told government leaders on Capitol Hill last week that he felt the trucking industry had been excluded from the discussion about autonomous vehicles. He said the trucking industry should be included in any policy discussion considering that the industry transports 71% of freight in this country.

How autonomous would they be?

Fully autonomous vehicles will not be operating any time soon. The short-term goal for trucks is the "driver assist" level -- or Level 1 of 5 on the NHTSA's ranking system -- of automation. These systems would include an automated emergency braking system and increased vehicle connectivity.

Will this make roads safer?

Since the concept is relatively new, there is uncertainty about the technology's effectiveness. There is a potential for automated emergency braking systems and increased connectivity to prevent accidents, injuries and fatalities.

What does this mean for passenger vehicles?

This could be good news for passenger vehicles. Increased safety measures mean truck software can help step in to prevent an accident if it senses something wrong in its environment. However, becoming over-reliant on the technology could create dangerous situations for you and the truck driver.

Sharing the road

Automation does not automatically make roads safer. It is always important to remain alert behind the wheel. Though the technology has the potential to increase safety on roads, it is not an excuse to drive less carefully around trucks. Sharing the road is still vital to everyone's safety. And while automated trucks won't be on the road for a while yet, it will always make sense to stay alert and respect the space of commercial trucks.

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