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Is Tesla’s Semi a Safer Alternative to Other Trucks?

News that Tesla was going to begin producing versions of a semi-truck was released in 2017. Production dates have been pushed back a couple of times, but if they can pull it off, will it make the roadways safer? Production of the electric truck has now been slated for late 2020, but if it hits the market, it’s possible that it could be a game changer for the trucking industry that could allow passenger vehicles to have safer highways.

According to the company’s own website, the Tesla “Semi is the safest, most comfortable truck ever.” The company is apparently planning to incorporate technology that will seek to eliminate the possibility for jackknifing that causes fatal truck accidents. The electronic system will be able to monitor weight across each tire’s independent motor. If a sensor detects a shift in weight, the system will adjust speed or braking for each tire as needed to prevent the truck from experiencing a jackknife. As with all automobile products, however, this safety feature will only be successful if it performs as Tesla intends.

Autopilot technology will be standard

Tesla is known for its autopilot feature on its vehicles and the semi-truck will contain this same technology. This feature allows the vehicle to automatically steer, accelerate, and brake while in its lane. The company is continuously working to improve autopilot and believes that eventually its cars will be fully self-driving with no driver supervision needed.

The Tesla semis aren’t yet a full reality, but they have already begun testing their autopilot technology.. Tesla is testing it on real streets with real passenger vehicles around. The semi cab was seen maneuvering through city streets with no driver in the seat controlling the vehicle. Taking people out of the driver seat means no more truck drivers operating 18-wheelers under the influence or while too exhausted to focus. The hope is that this will reduce truck accidents and save lives, so why would this be a problem?

Is autopilot in a truck a good idea?

The technology isn’t yet intended to allow drivers the luxury of leaning back for a nap while the vehicle drives on to their destination. Human supervision is still required, but drivers are finding ways around that. Several senators took Tesla and Uber to task this month over loopholes in their autopilot systems.

A self-driving Uber struck and killed a pedestrian during a test drive despite the camera sensor recognizing the woman was there more than 5 seconds before impact. The car failed to brake resulting in a fatality. There are currently 80 companies testing their vehicle autopilot features on our roadways leaving plenty of room for this to happen again.

While Tesla’s truck is still testing autopilot, their passenger vehicles have used it for a while, and it’s now come under fire. The issue, so far, isn’t that the technology has failed. The concern is that drivers are finding ways around proper use by learning tricks that fool the system into thinking the driver is still being attentive. One method that drivers are using to fool the autopilot system is to affix something to the steering wheel to create pressure, so the autopilot “thinks” hands are on the wheel. Senators want the technology patched, and they want it done yesterday.

While self-driving vehicles sound really cool and futuristic, at the end of the day they’re still electronic devices. Companies can claim they’re safer, but their goal is to take the human element out entirely. Thing about it: how many times has your cell phone or computer malfunctioned while you were using it? Now imagine that happening to an 80,000 pound truck with nobody at the wheel.

Tesla may be able to make some aspects of trucking safer, but we may be trading human error for computer error and putting lives at risk. Until we can be positive that these trucks are 100% safer, here are companies who have acknowledged ordering these new trucks:

  • UPS
  • Pepsi
  • TCI Transportation
  • Bee’ah
  • Sysco
  • Wal-Mart
  • Anheuser-Busch
  • Loblaw
  • DHL
  • City Furniture
  • Meijer
  • Ryder Systems
  • B. Hunt

Trucking accidents can happen anywhere and at any time, regardless of who is in control of the vehicle. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a commercial truck, you have a right to seek compensation for the harm you have suffered. At Harris Lowry Manton LLP, we understand that you may never get a loved one back or that your life may have a new normal after a truck crash. You shouldn’t be forced to worry about the future due to strained finances. To speak with one of our fierce truck accident attorneys, schedule your free consultation by calling our Atlanta office at 404-961-7650, our Savannah office at 912-651-9967, or by reaching out to us through our contact page.




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