Pennsylvania

Driverless trucks to make work zones safer in Pa.

The bill also allows for platooning

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WKBN) - Pennsylvania is assembling a committee to talk about ways to manage driverless vehicles. One thing they are looking at, an app that would allow government officials to lower the speed of commercial vehicles.

"In the past 10 years or so, close to 1,200 workers have lost their lives in work zones on our highways," said Bob Scaer, CEO of Gannett Fleming.

Which is why Governor Wolf signed House Bill 1958. It will allow the use of autonomous work zone vehicles by PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission.

"The bill is really going to enhance safety, specifically for some of our workers who are working in certain types of work vehicles along the turnpike," said Carl DeFebo, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

The bill also allows for platooning, which uses technology to link two to three buses, military vehicles or commercial trucks on the interstate.

"That means there's a driver in the first tractor-trailer and then, in essence, an invisible link between the next two vehicles where they just basically follow-on to the tail of that first vehicle," DeFebo said.

The lead truck driver controls the speed and motion of the other trucks. Supporters say it lowers fuel consumption and improves safety, with 94 percent of traffic accidents caused by human error.

"This is really all about making sure that our employees get home safely at the end of the day," DeFebo said.

As part of the bill, PennDOT will establish a highly automated vehicle advisory committee to evaluate the new law and look at ways to continue using autonomous vehicles in the future.


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