Self-Driving Trucks: An Opportunity for Safety and Economic Growth in California

Thang Truong
Thang Truong
Updated on:

Autonomous Trucks: The Answer to Highway Safety and Business Efficiency

A concerning toll of over 12,250 casualties from road accidents marked 2020 in Riverside County, California, leaving behind an irreversible void in many families and communities. With nearly 10% of California’s accidents involving trucks, and a third of long-distance truck drivers witnessing severe crashes during their career, it’s imperative that we address road safety and explore the potential of autonomous vehicles (AVs).

Autonomous Vehicles: The Safer Future

In the face of misinformation and fear, California legislators are contemplating halting the progress of AVs with Assembly Bill 316. However, rather than stunting their development, we should be urging safety authorities to implement regulations and supervision that will enhance the safety capabilities of this innovative technology.

Unaffected by fatigue or distraction, autonomous trucks boast a 360-degree vision and surpass human drivers in terms of distance and clarity, regardless of the time of day. Eliminating human error from the equation, autonomous trucks promise a significant improvement in road safety.

Solving Labor Shortages and Supply Chain Issues

As businesses grapple with workforce shortages, escalating inflation, and choked supply chains, autonomous trucks emerge as a beacon of hope for continued prosperity and resilience. The U.S. is facing an 80,000 shortfall in truck drivers – a number projected to double in the coming decade.

Deploying autonomous trucks presents an opportunity to mitigate this shortage without replacing jobs. However, requiring every autonomous truck to carry a human safety operator on board indefinitely will merely exacerbate the shortage and prevent us from leveraging this technology to strengthen our supply chain resilience.

The Ripple Effect of Restricting AV Trucks

The negative impacts of limiting autonomous trucks aren’t confined to business profit margins; they are felt by every Californian. Delays in essential supplies escalate prices and leave shelves empty, affecting both businesses and consumers. This has been a harsh reality for nearly three years as businesses struggle with an ongoing supply chain crisis.

California: Leading the Way in AV Truck Development

Home to many autonomous truck developers, California plays a vital role in job creation and community development. It seems counterproductive to turn away such economic progress, especially when nearby states like Arizona and Texas are embracing it, along with the accompanying safety and economic advantages.

Autonomous Trucks: Driving towards Environmental Goals

In addition to improving supply chains and boosting overall economic output across sectors, autonomous trucks can assist in achieving California’s climate objectives. They have the potential to decrease fuel consumption by a minimum of 10% due to efficient driving behaviors.

Embracing Innovation and Safety in California

California has always been an innovation hub. In order to significantly enhance safety and reflect current economic realities, it’s important that we leverage this technological capability. By doing so, we can bolster industries like agriculture, manufacturing, and retail across the state.

California legislators must advocate for, not obstruct, the deployment of autonomous trucks once the appropriate safety regulations are established. This will not only usher in much-needed change for Californians but also restore the state’s role as a leader in national innovation.

Autonomous Trucks: Shaping the Future of Commercial Truck Insurance

The advent of autonomous trucks will significantly impact the commercial truck insurance landscape. With the primary cause of truck accidents being human error, autonomous trucks’ ability to mitigate such risks would naturally lead to fewer accidents and claims. This, in turn, could lead to lower insurance premiums. However, it also presents a new set of challenges for insurers, such as determining liability in the event of an accident. With autonomous vehicles, the line between driver liability and product liability blurs, possibly shifting more responsibility onto the manufacturers of these autonomous systems. Insurance companies will need to adapt their models to this changing landscape, developing new policies and pricing structures that consider the advanced technology and its unique risks. The collaboration between insurers, autonomous truck companies, and regulators will be crucial to developing a fair and effective insurance framework for the autonomous trucking future.

The Impact on Commercial Truck Drivers: Understanding the Insurance Shift

As autonomous trucks take to the roads, commercial truck drivers should stay informed about the evolving insurance landscape. The changes could impact their profession and livelihood in several ways. For instance, with a potential shift of liability towards manufacturers, drivers might find their insurance premiums reduced. However, it is equally crucial to understand that this does not necessarily diminish their responsibilities on the road. Even in autonomous vehicles, drivers may still hold certain liabilities, especially if they override the system or fail to maintain it properly. Furthermore, as the industry shifts towards automation, drivers might find new opportunities emerging, such as remote vehicle operation or fleet management. Staying abreast of these changes and potential new roles in the industry will allow drivers to better prepare and adapt to the future of trucking. It is advisable for drivers to consult with their insurance providers and legal experts to fully understand the implications of these changes on their insurance coverage and career paths.

Thang Truong

Thang Truong covers small business insurance and small business success at BravoPolicy. He is a licensed P&C insurance agent. Previously, he held product leadership positions at, Capital One, NerdWallet, and Mulberry Technology. He holds a MBA degree from UC Berkeley - Haas School of Business.

More Stories

Walmart’s Innovative Solution to Truck Driver Shortage: Training Its Own Employees

In response to the truck driver shortage experienced last year, retail giant Walmart took a novel approach by offering its vast workforce of 1.6 million employees the opportunity to learn how to drive a big rig for the company. This initiative included attractive first-year salaries of up to $110,000 and a comprehensive 12-week training program. […]

California’s Legislative Move to Bridge Insurance Data Gaps for Zero-Emission Trucks

California is making strides in its commitment to environmental sustainability, with a new bill in the statehouse aimed at addressing insurance data gaps for heavy-duty trucks and truck fleets that utilize advanced fuels and related technologies. This move comes as part of the state’s broader initiative to transition to zero-emission vehicle truck standards. The Clean […]

Workers’ Compensation Insurance: A Beacon of Stability Amidst P/C Sector Volatility

In 2022, the underwriting results of workers’ compensation insurers outshone the rest of the U.S. property/casualty (P/C) commercial sector. This success is attributed to the long-term decrease in workplace accidents and a reduction in fraudulent claims, as reported by an industry segment report from A.M. Best. Favorable Loss Reserve Development The report highlights that the […]

Arizona Beverages’ Victory: A Landmark Case for Business Interruption Insurance

In a recent landmark case, Arizona Beverages USA LLC emerged victorious in a lawsuit against a Hanover Insurance Group unit. The dispute centered around coverage for business interruption caused by a computer breakdown. This case has set a precedent, providing clarity on what constitutes extra expenses incurred by insureds to avoid or reduce business interruption. […]

J&J’s $18.8M Case: A Reminder of Product Liability Insurance

In a recent legal case, Johnson & Johnson, a multinational corporation known for its consumer goods, was ordered to pay $18.8 million to a California man who claimed to have developed cancer due to exposure to the company’s baby powder. This case serves as a stark reminder of the potential financial implications businesses may face […]

Insurance Coverage Denied for Nonexistent Building: A Look at the Impact on Commercial Property Insurance

In a recent ruling that has sent ripples through the business insurance sector, a federal appeals court upheld that an insurance policy cannot cover a building that was non-existent at the time the policy was issued. This decision, favoring a unit of Hanover Insurance Group, has significant implications for businesses and their commercial property insurance […]

OSHA’s New Initiative: Enhancing Safety in High-Risk Retail Establishments

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently announced a national emphasis program aimed at mitigating workplace hazards in warehouses, processing facilities, distribution centers, and other establishments classified as “high-risk retail.” This initiative is a response to the growing concerns over the safety of these workplaces, which have seen a surge in accidents parallel […]

The Changing Landscape of Opioid Use in Workers Compensation Cases

The issue of opioid use in workers compensation cases has been a topic of concern for many years. However, recent data suggests a shift in the trend, with a decrease in opioid prescriptions but an increase in prescriptions for managing opioid dependency. This article delves into these trends and discusses the importance of workers compensation […]

A Landmark Victory: Dentist’s Insurance Claim Sets Precedent for COVID-19 Business Loss Coverage

In an unprecedented legal victory, a Pennsylvania dentist has successfully claimed insurance for business losses incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This landmark case, involving Dr. Timothy A. Ungarean, DMD, D/B/A Smile Savers Dentistry, PC, has set a significant precedent for similar cases in the future. The state Supreme Court’s decision to hear this case, […]