Peloton announced that it is beta testing semi-autonomous tractor-trailer technology. This technology allows a caravan of semi-trucks to travel in close proximity to one another and to function like a single vehicle as it moves down the highway. For instance, when the lead vehicle slows down, the technology senses that change and slows the other trucks behind it down. The purported benefit of this technology is a savings in fuel due to reduced drag as shown in the image below. Below is a video demonstration from Peloton’s website.
The major source of drag eliminated is compound drag, or drag between the vehicles. There is also compound drag between the cab of the truck and the trailer. While this provides for a more fuel efficient travel while in formation, this can create a dangerous situation where the sheer length of the combined vehicle is so long that it blocks other drivers from using on-ramps and off-ramps and exceeds the maximum allowable vehicle length. Florida defines the maximum length of semi-trailers in section 316.515, Florida Statutes. The maximum length for a semi-trailer is 53 feet if single and 28.5 feet if tandem. Florida does allow tandem units on interstate highways with an overall length up to 106 feet (unless grandfathered prior to ISTEA “freeze” June 1, 1991) and does not allow triple trailers. Overweight or oversize vehicles would need a permit from FDOT. Arguably even though the caravan is using a separate tractor for each trailer, the fact that they can operate as a single unit may cause a need to re-evaluate the law and properly determine whether it is safe to operate semi-trucks in this manner. If we do the math, each semi-truck can have a gross weight of up to 80,000 lbs. If four trucks are permitted to operate in virtual tandem, then the total combined weight of the “vehicle” becomes 320,000 lbs. In an accident, this can cause an impact that far outweighs the crash test performance characteristics of any passenger vehicle.
Contact A Polk County Truck Accident Attorney To Help You With Your Case
If you or someone you know has been injured in a truck accident in Polk County, Florida or has a semi-autonomous vehicle product liability claim, please contact a Polk County, Florida personal injury attorney for a free consultation.