The Future of the Semi-Truck Industry

For decades, the commercial trucking industry has been crucial to the American economy. Without the millions of semi-trucks on the road, major retail chains, manufacturers, and countless other businesses simply wouldn’t be able to operate. Though semi-trucks do often present a danger on America’s highways, their importance to our society cannot be denied. Like all aspects of the economy, however, semi-trucks and the ways that they are used are subject to change. New developments in trucking technology, as well as changes in the ways that products move around, guarantee that the future of the semi-truck industry will be very different from the way it exists today.

Why is the Semi-Truck Industry Changing?

In the last few years, we’ve seen many instances of disruption. Disruption in business refers to an innovation that creates a new market which affects existing markets and displaces established market leaders. Notable examples include movie rental giant Blockbuster being toppled by streaming services like Netflix, or the music industry and the changes that came about from Apple’s iTunes and streaming services like Pandora and Spotify. The trucking industry might seem like one that can’t be changed or challenged by an app, but there are already companies hoping to prove that assumption wrong. Uber, the ridesharing company that already disrupted the taxi industry, has recently set its sights on the trucking industry. The company calls its trucking division Uber Freight, and it works by matching carriers with shippers through a free app.

Aside from Uber Freight, there is also the prospect of self-driving trucks that many expect will dramatically affect the trucking industry within the next decade or so. Recently a Swedish company called Einride unveiled a prototype self-driving truck called the T-Pod. This driverless vehicle has no windows or space for passengers. It’s described as “essentially a giant box on wheels.” Being a prototype, the T-Pod is unlikely to ever hit the roads in its current form, but its design does provide a look at the future of the semi-truck industry. Self-driving trucks like the T-Pod also elicit questions about the safety of our driverless vehicle future.

How Will the Law Adapt to These Changes?

One of the questions that often comes up is, how will the law keep up with all of these technological innovations? Unfortunately, there have been a lot of instances of startups like Uber outpacing the government’s ability to regulate their practices. It’s been pointed out that, at one point, New York tried to stop Uber and Airbnb from operating in the city, but by that point, they’d been established enough to be popular with the people. When it comes to commercial trucking, it’s incredibly important that the regulations designed to keep other drivers on the roads safe are respected. We’ve discussed the complicated nature of autonomous vehicles on the road before. Unfortunately, the regulation of those vehicles is no less complicated than the ethical considerations.

Will Future Semi-Trucks Be More or Less Safe?

People also wonder if self-driving semi-trucks will be safer than the trucks currently on the road. While manufacturers and designers of self-driving vehicles talk a lot about the improved safety possibilities, there has yet to be any conclusive proof. It will be important to prioritize safety above all other factors as we transition to autonomous vehicles. It will also be important to establish who is liable if an accident occurs with a self-driving semi-truck.

Experienced Semi-Truck Accident Attorneys

At Nelson MacNeil Rayfield, we value the safety of all drivers on the road. If you’ve been involved in an accident with a semi-truck, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation today. We have over 70 years of collective legal and trial experience, and we’re always happy to answer your questions or represent you, if need be. 


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