Transportation officials hope a new law will make Pennsylvania’s highway work zones safer.
Governor Tom Wolf has signed legislation that allows the use of automated work zone vehicles by PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission.
Automated trucks would be positioned at the back of work zones and mimic the moves of a control truck in the front. If a distracted driver veers into the work zone, it would be the automated truck’s job to take the impact and protect the construction crew.
The bill also allows for platooning, which uses technology to link two or three buses, military vehicles, or commercial trucks. The lead truck driver controls the speed and motion of the other trucks. Supporters say it lowers fuel consumption and improves safety – since 94 percent of traffic accidents are caused by human error.
As part of the legislation, PennDOT will establish a highly automated vehicle advisory committee to evaluate the new law and look at future uses of automated vehicles.
Tests with the vehicles will begin sometime next year.