ARLINGTON, VA (September 13, 2017) – The Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) thanks Members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for holding this important hearing, “Transportation Innovation: Automated Trucks and our Nation’s Highways.” We look forward to working with members of the committee as well as safety advocates, technology companies, and leaders in the trucking industry to continue discussing the role of autonomous technologies in commercial motor vehicles and to develop an oversight framework that prioritizes safety first.
TSC recognizes the potential safety benefits of autonomous technologies in trucking, especially at a time when truck crashes continue to climb. Since 2009, truck crashes have gone up by 45 percent, resulting in a 20 percent increase in truck crash fatalities and a 57 percent increase in truck crash injuries. To make matters worse, truck vehicle miles decreased by 3 percent in that same time, meaning that the truck crash involvement, truck crash injury, and truck crash fatality rates have all increased over the past six years.
While TSC is excited that autonomous technologies have the potential to prevent and mitigate thousands of crashes resulting from human error, we also want to ensure that the process for testing and developing AV technology in trucks does not jeopardize public safety. As we continue to figure out the details of the regulatory framework associated with AV technology, we urge lawmakers to work towards mandating automatic emergency braking and heavy vehicle speed limiters on all trucks. Both of these technologies serve as building blocks to achieving a fully autonomous truck, and, more importantly, can reduce crashes, prevent injuries, and save lives today, rather than several years from now.