On April 13, 2021, Ariel Wolf was quoted in FleetOwneron the trucking industry’s safer, self-driving future. According to the article, driver assistance technologies on commercial and passenger vehicles are more prevalent each year, creating the potential to reduce road crashes caused by human error. As artificial intelligence (AI) grows more powerful, there won’t be drivers operating some commercial vehicles running on major freight corridors. The efficiency that could come with Class 8 autonomous vehicles (AVs) is nearly endless. But how safe can what equates to an 80,000-lb. robot be as it motors among human-controlled vehicles on the interstate?
“The thing I try to emphasize is the baseline,” Wolf told FleetOwner. “What’s the baseline today? We’ve accepted — because we have no alternative — the level of death and destruction that occurs on the roads today. It’s just something we’ve grown accustomed to. It’s not just the 36,000, 37,000 deaths; it’s the 4 million injuries. People walk away with lifetime permanent injuries.”
At least 31,000 people have been killed each year in U.S. motor vehicle crashes since the end of World War II, according to the National Safety Council. “The conversation should be built on that baseline,” Wolf said. “People just end up jumping to the question: Is the technology safe or not? I think we know the technology will make the roads safer.”
“While we address the important questions that come with new technology, particularly in the transportation sector,” he continued, “we need to look at what it is we are living with today. And then ask ourselves — given all these questions and all these important issues that we’re raising — will the deployment of this technology make us safer, more mobile, more efficient going forward? I think the answer is a clear ‘yes’ when it’s framed that way.”
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