Can Technology Prevent Fatal Truck Crashes?

Is technology a solution to stopping the dangerous truck driving behaviors that cause fatal accidents?

One possible hi-tech answer receiving media coverage and industry attention is the introduction of autonomous, self-driving big rigs.  No one is predicting when they will be on the road full time.  Even manufacturers are saying it may be years before they are employed full time. But real-world testing has been going on for a while.

These commercial trucks are controlled not by human beings but by computers.  The trucking industry is intrigued because driverless tractor-trailers could reduce a major source of expense and administrative headaches: staffing. Plus, driverless trucks theoretically could make deliveries faster since they won’t have to stop for federally mandated rest periods. Again, another bottom-line plus for trucking concerns.

Careless Truck Drivers and Fatal Accidents

Beyond cost-savings, self-driving commercial truck advocates say they could potentially reduce the number of fatal truck crashes by sidelining human error.  Of course, this remains to be seen and is highly debatable.

There is another technology that may also help prevent catastrophic commercial truck accidents by preventing careless truck driver mistakes.  This technology only highlights the dangers other drivers face every day when truckers are careless.

The Large Truck Causation Study, the most comprehensive examination to date of why deadly commercial truck crashes occur, identified human error as the leading cause.  Its findings were published in 2007, but reinforcing data has been gathered annually since then.

Over 4,700 people were killed in commercial truck accidents in 2017, the federal government reported earlier this year.  It has not yet published a more in-depth report of fatal truck crashes for 2017, but 2016 data show how dangerous inattentive and irresponsible truckers are.

In 2016, distracted commercial drivers were involved in six percent of all the fatal truck and bus crashes. Distracted truck drivers are especially dangerous when traffic is heavy and also at night when visibility is limited.  Truckers who don’t pay attention to changing road conditions can rear-end cars in front of them, inflicting widespread carnage.

Truckers Using Cell Phones

Cell phone usage is a growing driver distraction.  Commercial truckers are legally barred from using hand-held cell phones while driving.  Yet, according to the federal data, cell phone use was a factor in 16 percent of truck crash deaths in 2016.

Still another negligent truck driver act – speeding – was found in 17 percent of fatal truck crashes that same year.

In response to these facts, several companies are developing in-cab systems that monitor and hopefully prevent reckless truck driver behavior.

These systems record evidence of speeding and other dangerous truck driver actions, such as lane swerving and unnecessary departures.  Some hi-tech products available now can sense aggressive trucking driving – tailgating, for example – and alert the trucker to stop.

New technology features on-board cameras that visually capture truckers who are inattentive.  One system monitors the eyes of truck drivers to detect signs of distraction and fatigue, and issues a loud warning when such signs are captured.

While these systems may be a productive step toward reducing fatal trucking accidents, there still is one fool-proof solution: truck drivers pay attention to the road at all times and put an end to their careless actions.

If you were seriously injured or had a loved one die in a crash caused by a commercial truck, speak with an attorney who represents victims of truck accidents to start an investigation that protects your legal rights.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Articles December 27, 2018