News / What Are The New Requirements For Driverless Trucks?

What Are The New Requirements For Driverless Trucks?

21 March 2023 - by - in Industry News
What Are The new requirements for driverless trucks?

Dashboard of the truck

Several months ago, the world dealt with driver shortages and a lack of trucking fleets. Now, things are changing even more as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) works on regulating requirements for Level 4 and Level 5 trucks. These trucks have remote operation, which does not require a driver behind the wheel of the truck. The federal government is currently working on a proposal that will require companies to notify the government if they place these trucks on any interstate route. While there are both positive and negative factors at play in this decision, some people are wondering why are companies using driverless trucks?

Is There Still A Driver Shortage?

The lack of drivers because of vacation time, pandemic restrictions, and financial needs, has left trucking fleets lacking the support they need. Therefore, many consumers have not been receiving their shipments on schedule. Is there still a driver shortage that is causing the push for driverless trucks? While there was a driver shortage several months ago, that does not seem like the case now. Trucking companies notice that remotely assisted trucks allow companies better control over the vehicles. The FMCSA believes companies can better control vehicles without human intervention. Trucks with human drivers, or driver-assisted technology, are those with a Level 3 and below. Companies believe these autonomous trucks could increase the market with productivity and efficiency. 

What Are the New Requirements For Driverless Trucks?

According to the FMCSA, while the federal government is investigating requirements for all trucking levels, it is mostly concerned with Levels 4 and 5. These are the driverless trucks that will need to report to the government before entering the interstate area. There are several government requirements these trucks will need to meet before they get on the road.

The first requirement is the method in which the trucks will need to notify the agency before they enter the interstate area. If they do report in, they will need to submit certain documentation, data, or some evidence of their license to operate as a Level 4 or Level 5 vehicle. As they report, they will also need to prove their safety protocols. 

Secondly, the FMCSA will need to demonstrate they can collect the appropriate data for their Level 4 and 5 vehicles. The agency will also need to prove the vehicles have proper maintenance and have the necessary safety equipment for these levels. 

What Does This Mean For Other Companies?

There are several other questions and concerns the public may have regarding driverless vehicles. Other concerns include whether the agency needs to require an additional inspection prior to each trip. Since these vehicles are remotely controlled, there are technical factors that may also contribute to increased danger on the roads. Carriers will need to notify the government prior to driving on the roads, but this will not necessarily prevent technical malfunctions on the roads. Companies should remain aware of their shipping options in the event of a trucking halt while trucking companies work out a proposal. 

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