Truck platooning is an aerodynamic approach to cut fuel consumption by reducing wind resistance. Two big-rig trucks speed down the freeway only 30-50 feet apart leaving no real gap between them with the lead truck in control. The reduction in aerodynamic drag of two-truck platoons provide significant fuel savings. Proponents of truck platooning allege it allows the second truck to react more quickly and accurately when the lead truck must respond to an obstacle ahead.
Several European Countries are attempting to lead the way in what they call smart truck driving. In Germany, Mercedes is testing three big rig trucks platooning in what is termed Daimler’s Highway Pilot Connect System. The trucks are controlled by the lead vehicle through wireless communication. If the lead truck’s collision avoidance system activates its brakes the following trucks will do the same.
In Mountain View, California, Peloton Technology is an early leader in this field. They make hardware and software that allows the trailing truck’s brakes and acceleration to automatically synchronize with the one in front.
Truck platooning in urban areas can be dangerous for the driving public. How will cars be able to safely exit or enter an urban freeway if there is a long line of trucks only 30 feet apart? Many drivers move to the right lane to exit a freeway when they are close to their exit. With truck platooning it will require drivers to move to the far right lane long before they reach their exit. A driver who believes he or she must quickly exit may try to squeeze through the 30 feet separating the trucks so as not to miss their exit. Likewise, entering a freeway when multiple trucks are platooning will result in quick and unsafe driving decisions.
Truck platooning should not be permitted in high traffic volume urban locations. A clear and well defined law regarding truck platooning must be in place before truck platooning is permitted. Driving safely is more important than fuel savings. The trucking industry has consistently resisted safety improvements in other areas. The death toll in truck-involved crashes has been on the rise for several years. Large trucks are disproportionally involved in fatal accidents. Truck platooning and collision-avoidance technology may become common in the near future. However, practical safety consideration should be in place for the driving public before platooning is permitted.
The Van Blois law firm specializes in Big Rig Truck Accidents. If you are involved in a truck accident or have any questions regarding truck accidents, please contact our law firm.