According to an online news report posted on finchannel.com, the number of fatal tractor-trailer truck accidents has been on the increase for over 30 years. In 2019, a record number of fatal trucking accidents occurred, proving that the attempts to reduce fatal truck accidents aren’t working.
A majority of large truck accidents are caused by driver error and negligence. According to medium.com, new technology has been developed to address issues such as distracted driving, driving while drowsy, driving while eating, and a multitude of other driver-related accidents. The new technology involves the use of driver-facing dash cameras with Artificial Intelligence. The dash cams are pointed at the driver and record the driver’s behavior while driving. More than anything, the driver-facing dashboard cameras serve as a good deterrence to eliminate distracted driving. Driver-facing dash cameras can identify how often a truck driver picks up their cellphone, becomes distracted while driving, and the devices can even identify when the driver is fatigued while the driver is behind the wheel.
According to dashboard camera companies, this technology makes our roadways a lot safer by sending safety alerts regarding dangerous driver behavior to fleet safety managers. The dash cameras also protect truck drivers since the in-cab video footage can be used to exonerate drivers.
Another new technology automates and certifies the driver logbook process. Electronic logging devices track and store important truck driver data such as speeding, hours driven, heavy braking, and reckless driving. Most importantly, this data cannot be easily manipulated or cheated.
Two new technologies that have either become mandatory in commercial trucks or have been widely implemented are electronic speed limiters and mapping technologies. Electronic speed limiters restrict the top speed of large commercial trucks to 65 miles per hour. Some emerging speed limiting technologies take it a step further by keeping the truck’s top speed within the current speed limit. So, if a semi-truck travels along a highway with a speed limit of 45, the commercial truck is limited to 45 miles per hour. When the truck enters an interstate highway with a speed limit of 65 miles per hour, the truck will be permitted to increase the truck’s speed up to 65 miles per hour. Mapping software is another technology that can help decrease tractor-trailer truck accidents. At first, the mapping software was designed to cut fuel costs and make trips more efficient and timely. However, mapping software has been upgraded in the past few years to help create “safer routes.” The mapping software configures the trucker’s route based on historical accident data, current road conditions, traffic conditions, the type of freight carried, weather conditions, and several other factors.
Should truck drivers and the trucking industry embracing these emerging technologies, many avoidable truck accidents could be avoided.
So why aren’t trucking companies proactively trying to reduce trucking accidents?
Today’s commercial transportation industry is very competitive. There are over 350,000 owner-operator trucks in service in the United States. In addition to large commercial trucking companies and owner-operator truckers, companies like Uber and uShip are moving into the package delivery service. Uber has a fleet of on-demand drivers who can now deliver food, retail purchases, and packages around town. uShip is a shipping marketplace of people who compete on price to pick up and ship goods.
The increased competition has caused shipping prices to fall. These smaller private vehicles don’t meet the weight requirements to require expensive million-dollar insurance policies as large trucking companies and owner-operators must maintain. Therefore, truck drivers and trucking companies look for ways to boost profits. Often, the strategies that boost profits come at a high cost to others. For example, truck drivers might work longer hours in order to add a few more shipments in a week’s time frame. The more shipments a driver can make, the more money the driver and the trucking company can earn. However, drivers who violate federal Hours of Service regulations put other motorists at serious risk.
Unfortunately, the aforementioned safety technologies do not permit truckers and trucking companies to “bend the rules” to increase revenue and profits. Therefore, until lawmakers pass laws mandating the use of these new safety technologies, truck accident fatalities with continue to rise year to year.
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