Will Uber Freight Make Commercial Trucking More or Less Safe?

By now, almost everyone knows what a game-changer Uber turned out to be in the taxi industry. Through the creation of a simple-to-use smart phone application, Uber disrupted an entire industry with ride-sharing technology that matches customers with available drivers. As a result, customers who once paid hefty taxi fares can often find a much cheaper transportation alternative. Now, Uber is expanding into the commercial trucking industry with a service called “Uber Freight.” Considering Uber’s impact on the taxi industry, along with the many reports of high-profile ups and downs of Uber’s management, many people wonder how the service will affect the trucking industry, and whether Uber Freight will make commercial trucking more or less safe.

What Is Uber Freight?

Similar to the regular Uber service, Uber Freight uses an application to match trucking carriers with customers who have something that they want to ship. As with Uber, Uber Freight orders can be booked directly from a smart phone. Uber claims that the carrier is typically paid more quickly through its service that when using a commercial broker.

What is Otto?

In 2016, Uber purchased a trucking company called “Otto,” which has worked on developing technology to make trucks autonomous. Along with Uber’s Advanced Technology Team, Otto is working to develop self-driving trucks. Generally, discussions of safety concerning Uber Freight, also consider the consequences of Otto.

Will Uber Freight and Otto Make Our Roads Safer?

Arguments can be made on both sides of this question. Below we’ll take a look at a few of the pros and cons.

Pros

With regard to Uber Freight, the company points out that there will be fewer trucks driving “empty miles.” These are miles a truck drives with no cargo, seeking to find its next load. Certainly, anything that helps to reduce the number of miles tractor trailer and other trucks are on the road, should help increase safety. With regard to Otto, once the technology is capable and properly advanced, it is certainly possible that automated technology could assist in preventing thousands of driver-related trucking accidents.

Cons

With regard to Uber Freight, some critics contend that Uber will harm the trucking industry, just as it has the taxi-industry. However, there is a big difference in our opinion. Almost anyone with a driver’s license and an acceptable car can drive for Uber. This is not true for Uber Freight. The federal government will continue to highly regulate the licensing of truck drivers and the regulation of the trucking industry. Some do fear that Uber, based upon its history, will attempt to lessen safety regulations. With regard to Otto, some critics fear that computer-based driving technology can be hacked. Undoubtedly, in today’s world, internet and computer security is an issue which these companies must address very carefully.

Contact with Questions

There is no doubt that technology is changing, and will continue to change, the trucking industry. We applaud efforts by manufacturers making any product which will make Oregon roads safer. While only time will tell which of these changes will be for the best, and which will be for the worst, our experience tells us that humans will continue to make mistakes and machines will continue to malfunction on occasion. Some of these events will have harmful, if not tragic consequences. Fortunately, no matter what the status of technology, the law will continue to strive to hold members of society accountable for wrongful conduct. If you believe you have been harmed by the wrongful conduct of others, whether through a semi-truck collision or otherwise, please contact us with your questions. The experienced lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield are here to help.


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