New Technologies for Commercial Tractor-Trailer Trucks Raise Hopes for Greater Fuel Efficiency but also Safety Concerns

October 25, 2017

According to the Washington Post, commercial trucking companies are equipping tractor trailers with new technologies--including radar, cameras, and reflective light scanning--to allow tractor-trailers to follow other trucks at distances as close as 30 feet.  The pairing of tractor-trailers at short distances is called "platooning." Ordinarily, following at these short distances would be considered incredibly unsafe, and it still may be unsafe even with the aid of technology. 


Anyone who follows NASCAR or who has watched 1990 hit movie "Days of Thunder" knows that when one vehicle follows closely behind another vehicle, it reduces wind drag on both vehicles. This is called drafting and it allows both vehicles to travel a given distance using less energy--or fuel.


Safety advocates, however, have several concerns about platooning trucks, said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association.


“The chief safety concern for passenger vehicles is how other drivers will react to platoons,” Adkins said. “How fast should platoons be permitted to travel? Will long platoons block exit lanes that were not designed for such circumstances? Can we limit platoons to only the right lane, rather than blocking multiple lanes of traffic? How can we prevent cars from trying to dangerously ‘cut in’ between platooning trucks?”


Adkins adds, “The good news is that the necessary research is being conducted.”


But let's remember that we are talking about 80,000 pound vehicles. While increased fuel efficiency is obviously good for the commercial trucking business, it should not be permitted if in fact it poses serious safety risks to other drivers on the road. Greater profits for truck company shareholders don't trump the safety of Montana families. One thing is safe to say: On the question of whether platooning tractor-trailer trucks pose an added risk to other drivers, the jury is still out.


Read article: Washington Post



The commercial trucking industry is subject to special safety laws precisely because tractor-trailer trucks pose substantial safety risks to other cars on the road.


Commercial trucking law is complicated (see our previous blog post Understanding Commercial Truck Accident Law).  If you were injured in an accident with a commercial truck, you need an experienced attorney who understands trucking law. We invite you to contact us for a free consultation.


You can contact us by phone at (406) 300-0003 or by completing a short form on this website to speak with an experienced Montana truck injury attorney.


And know that if we mutually agree to move forward, our law firm will cover all case costs and you will pay us nothing unless we win your case.




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