Could Tech Be the Answer to Truck Driver Fatigue?

by Terry Bryant

Truck driver fatigue is a real problem, and one that affects everybody who uses our roads and highways. If a driver is tired behind the wheel, his or her responses will be slowed and decision-making abilities compromised. That can spell real danger when a 40-ton tractor-trailer rig is involved.

Making Trucking Safer

Transportation industry and technology companies are working together to make trucking safer, according to a recent article in Fleet Owner magazine. A high-tech solution to fatigued driving in truckers was developed by Trimble Transportation and Pulsar Informatics. Pulsar garnered data from researchers who studied sleep patterns in the aerospace, aviation, trucking, and other industries and developed “fatigue meters” for these industries. Its Trucking Fatigue Meter uses hours-of-service information to measure how tired a driver may be and determine what that driver’s overall safety risk is behind the wheel. Trimble’s Onboard Event Recording device then monitors that driver while he or she is on the road to see if they are showing signs of fatigue. The Trimble-Pulsar system looks at driver performance every 15 minutes and compares the results to other drivers in the trucking fleet. The system monitors things like sudden stops and starts, drifting out of lanes, and other possible evidence of fatigue. If the data indicates a driver may be tired, an alert can be sent to the driver instructing him or her to find a safe spot to rest or to pull over and call in for a check of how they are doing.

Another development by Trimble designed to increase safety is an enhancement of the company’s video platform that will capture video of truck events and categorize them as either primary or secondary safety concerns.

Additional safety devices installed in large trucks that are designed to make trucks safer on the road include lane-departure warning systems, collision-avoidance alerts, rollover protection, and other features.

Technology Cannot Do It All

With thousands of people dying nationwide in truck-related crashes every year–nearly 4,000 people died in 2016 according to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety–technology advances to make trucking safer overall are very important. However, just because technology is at work to measure fatigue and warn drivers about other safety risks, this doesn’t mean truck drivers can be any less alert than before these tech systems played a part in trucking safety.

And some safety experts worry that truckers may rely too much on these systems, instead of on their own driving experience, judgment, and intelligence, which can lead to more crashes, directly opposing what the systems are designed to do.

There is no one single answer to making large trucks safer. Safety technology and driver assist systems, proper driver training and oversight, safer driving from other vehicles on the road, and the truck drivers themselves all play a part in reducing trucking accidents, fatalities, and injuries.

If you have been injured in a large truck or other vehicle accident, the experienced traffic accident attorneys at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law are here to help. Call us toll-free at 1 (800) 444-5000 or contact us through our online form.