What is truck platooning (and why is it dangerous)?

Truck “platooning” involves a convoy of commercial trucks driving closely together, coordinating their movements through the use of advanced technology. This emerging practice, which is sort of an advanced form of “cruise control” for semitrucks, aims to improve fuel efficiency, reduce emissions and increase road capacity.

It’s not supposed to raise the risk of accidents to truckers and other roadway users, however –that can happen for a number of reasons. These are some of the concerns surrounding platooning.

Limited maneuverability and increased risks

One of the primary concerns with truck platooning is the limited maneuverability of platooning vehicles. When trucks drive closely together, their ability to change lanes, react to sudden obstacles or execute evasive maneuvers may be compromised. This raises concerns about increased risks during emergency situations when every second counts.

Human error and over-reliance on technology

Truck platooning relies heavily on advanced technology, including vehicle-to-vehicle communication and automated driving systems. These technologies are not immune to failures or malfunctions. Human error in managing and responding to technological glitches can have serious consequences – particularly when a driver “checks out” mentally because they start to rely too heavily on the tech.

Complicated interactions with other drivers

Truck platooning introduces unique challenges for other drivers on the road. It can be more difficult for passenger vehicles to navigate around the (already considerable) blind spots of platooning vehicles. Plus, sudden lane changes or unpredictable maneuvers by platooning vehicles can lead to confusion and accidents.

Infrastructure compatibility and road conditions

Truck platooning requires well-maintained, compatible roads to function optimally. Uneven road surfaces, construction zones and poorly maintained roads can disrupt the smooth operation of platooning systems – and that increases the odds of a wreck. Since it isn’t always easy to tell if a stretch of road is in disrepair before you’re on it, that could lead to increased hazards for both platooning truckers and surrounding passenger vehicles.

If you’ve been injured in a wreck with a semi or another commercial vehicle (whether platooning was involved or not), find out more about what it takes to successfully obtain fair compensation for your losses. You should not be held responsible for the negligent, injurious actions (or inactions) of another.