Fatalities resulting from trucking accidents have continued to increase over the years. There have been ongoing debates in-between the trucking industry & federal regulators about what causes these accidents.
According to the latest statistical figures, approximately five thousand people traveling in passenger vehicles lose their lives each year in collisions involving semi-trucks. On the other hand, these accidents result in the death of seven hundred people traveling in semi-trucks.
The recent increase in the economy has led to a rise in driven miles, which is considered one of the reasons behind the increasing number of accidents. However, as far as trucking accidents are concerned, driver fatigue is one of the top reasons. At present, the typical age of semi-truck & large truck drivers is around fifty.
Therefore, it is likely that driver fatigue-related truck accidents will only increase in the days to come.
The American Trucking Association mentions that they are proactively exploring the possibilities of using new technologies for improved motorist performance & vehicle safety. The good news is that many companies have already developed different kinds of fatigue monitoring systems. However, even after observing the success of technology tools in reducing automobile accidents, the trucking industry is extremely sluggish in adopting these technologies. For example, the use of airbags is still not mandatory in the USA for large trucks.
Mentioned below are some of the latest technological innovations that can drastically lower the number of truck accidents.
Eyelid Monitoring: These systems use cabin mounted cameras capable of monitoring the eyelids of a motorist. In case the motorist's eyelids droop, the system alerts him or her of danger by sounding a warning. A company named Delphi (News - Alert) Automotive has already created a safety system that can sense if the motorist is blinking too fast, or the motion of his head indicates that he is sleepy. The price for installing these eyelid-monitoring devices is estimated to be within $500 to $2500. Compared to the overall cost of new trucks, this is but a small increase.
Automatic Brakes: Another automotive safety company has not too long ago created a crash avoidance system that warns truck drivers about lane obstructions & accidents resulting from such obstructions. These systems make use of radars to apply automatic brakes, whenever an imminent crash is detected. It also helps maintain a protected distance in-between vehicles by adjusting cruise control. The expense of the installation of these systems in a semi-truck is approximately $2,000 to $2,500. A research conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute & financed by NHTSA confirmed that these safety systems could prevent three hundred fatalities each year.
Electronic Stability Control: ESC (Information - Alert) technology has been used extensively in cars for many years. NHTSA is currently engaged in efforts to make these systems mandatory for all large trucks. Computer-controlled systems for steering & braking are used with these devices to lower rollovers during crises. By installing these systems worth around $1200, vehicles will be able to eliminate about seventy fatalities & eight hundred injuries each year.
Continuous Remote Data Feed: Trucking companies also can equip their vehicles with sensors capable of generating a constant feed of data & sending them to specific locations for real-time monitoring. Computers can detect disturbing driving behaviors such as swerving or drifting across lanes & warn the drivers. Safety managers can review the videos later to find out if there was any distraction or fatigue. The equipment cost for this system is around $500, & there is a monthly cost of about $50 per truck for monitoring.
Though many new technology tools are coming up, the trucking companies must show some genuine commitment to minimizing the number of trucking accidents. Until that happens, the only real hope for victims of big-rig accidents is to rely on injury lawyers who specialize in semi-truck accidents to fight for their rights.