The state legislature will consider next session if the Missouri transportation department should have the option of launching a testing program for automated long-haul trucks to travel on some roadways. Rep. Charlie Davis (R-Webb City) is sponsoring the measure. He tells Missourinet so-called platooning lets the lead semi communicate with a truck behind it, which allows that vehicle to follow at a closer distance.

State Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City

“The best way to describe it is like having cruise control in one vehicle controlling the speed and the braking in a vehicle behind it. The purpose of behind that is primarily because of the fuel savings,” says Davis. “It does not get rid of anything as far as a driver being required to be behind the wheel. It does not get rid of the requirement to have somebody actually steering.”

Davis says the lead truck will increase its fuel efficiency by about 3-6% and the vehicle behind it would be about 6-10%.

He says platooning is inevitable nationwide.

“As technology continues to advance, I think it’s important that we use the technology for the same reason you have automobiles nowadays that have the advanced braking mechanisms on them,” says Davis.

Critics of so-called platooning say the technology would make the state’s roadways less safe. Citing the same concern, Governor Jay Nixon (D) vetoed Davis’s measure this year that included platooning. The GOP-controlled legislature upheld Nixon’s veto on the proposal.

The legislature reconvenes on January 4.