Platooning Semi-Trucks in New Mexico: Liability Issues and Regulatory Solutions
According to New Mexico’s Autonomous Vehicle Committee, over a dozen car manufacturers are working to incorporate more automated technology into vehicles, making vehicles more autonomous over the next five to ten years. While vehicle automation has many uses and applications, this paper focuses specifically on automated semi-truck platooning. Semi-truck platooning is defined as two or more vehicles which follow each other at a set speed and distance in an attempt to reduce drag and increase fuel efficiency. Automation assists semi-truck drivers maintain speed and distance between platooning vehicles. Platooning could have environmental, commercial, and safety benefits for New Mexico. Environmentally, platooning could impact the amount of greenhouse gases attributed to transportation in the State. Commercially, New Mexico is part of a four state coalition that wants to develop platooning as a means to help commerce. Regarding safety, many proponents of platooning believe automation will generally make driving safer. Encouraging platooning is likely to have an overall positive effect in New Mexico, but consideration should be given to the inevitability of crashes involving nonplatooning motorists and platoons.