Technology advancements poised to change how we share the road

Technology advancements could bring back convoy-like travel to trucking industry

We all pass tractor trailer trucks on the highway, but could that change soon?

Advancements in technology could some day bring a concept called "platooning" to the trucking industry here in the mid-west.

"Out in the state of California, they're messing with that out there, but they have certain lanes of traffic, just for that," said Jim Walker of Custom Diesel Drivers Training, Inc. in Omaha.

In a nutshell, "platooning" is when a computer system would copy the lead truck's speed, acceleration and braking to all the subsequent trucks, essentially creating a chain of big rigs.

"You might see that as a convoy, but it's not really a convoy because its one truck doing all the job," said Walker, who referenced an old method of travel used by tractor trailer drivers back in the 1970s.

"The technology is ready, I don't believe the states and the infrastructure is ready for this," said Jim McGee, a former officials with the Nebraska Department of Roads.

McGee says many of the deadly crashes involving large trucks and cars in the U.S. are caused by the driver in the car, and not the trained driver inside the tractor trailer truck.

"The technology that's coming forth will make roads safer," said McGee, "because the same technology that we're talking about for large trucks is also going on the road for passenger vehicles."

Regardless of the date platooning makes its way to Nebraska, Walker says drivers in cars need to give truckers space on the highway.

"You really want to try to give them respect and stay out of their way," said Walker. "If you do that everybody could stay safe out on the highways."

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