US states mull platoon liberalisation

  • April 11, 2023
  • William Payne

A number of US states are preparing legislation to alter the status of autonomous truck platooning technologies on highways. Some changes are designed to allow greater freedom to operate autonomous truck platooning, while others are aimed at tightening up regimes and preventing greater liberalisation.

Truck platooning employs technology to allow trucks to follow each other closely in convoys at determined set distances. This reduces air drag and improves fuel economy. It also allows vehicles to carry greater loads. Connected vehicle technology and assistive driver technologies are employed to keep the convoy safe and maintain set distances.

Around 41 US states currently allow truck platooning. 30 of these have legislation in place; a further six employ executive orders, while a further five have mixed regimes of both legislation and executive orders.

The state of Arkansas has recently relaxed a 2017 law requiring each platooned truck to have a driver in place. The state’s new law now requires only the lead truck to have a driver in the cab.

A bill in the California Assembly will ban the use of truck platooning within the state. California already bans the practice, but state officials are said to be planning to relax the restrictions unilaterally. The current bill is aimed at preventing any such move by state officials.

Missippi is considering following Arkansas with a bill that would allow platoons without drivers in following vehicles. At present, drivers must be present in all trucks within a platoon.

Missippi neighbour Missouri is considering legislation to allow platooning employing self driving and V2V technologies. Separate bills in both state house and senate would introduce both platooning and self driving truck operations to the state.

Like Arkansas and Missippi, Tennessee is considering legislation to remove an obligation to have a driver in each vehicle of the platoon.