Technology May Reduce The Damage Done by Fatigued Truck Drivers
We may be in a period of time when technology’s ability to change our transportation system has never been greater. Though developments in the past impacted how vehicles are powered and their safety, today’s technology is shaping the future of the relationship between drivers, including those in commercial vehicles, and their vehicles. This technology has the potential to do many things, including reduce the threat fatigued drivers pose to themselves and others on Indiana’s roads.
Technology may greatly reduce the number of drivers of commercial trucks, whether they’re fatigued or not. Though it’s not ready to be put safely on the road yet, given enough time, improved software and greater computing capacity, the replacement of a large number of truck drivers may be inevitable.
In the short term, just as technology is being used to make passenger vehicle drivers more aware of the dangers they may be getting themselves into, the same is happening with commercial trucks. The owners of these trucks have far more incentive to use, invest in and improve this technology, given the high cost of the trucks and the damage an out-of-control truck driven by someone who’s half asleep can do to others on the road.
One of those technologies is being developed by Trimble Transportation in partnership with Pulsar Informatics, reports Fleet Owner.
Pulsar is using data it has developed while studying sleep patterns and monitoring fatigue of astronauts and pilots. They, like commercial truck drivers, have their work hours regulated for safety reasons. Pulsar gauges a truck driver’s fatigue using Hours of Service data and creates warnings for the company’s Trucking Fatigue Meter. Drivers are given a rating like that of a traffic signal: green, yellow or red (a potential safety warning).
This is coupled with Trimble’s Onboard Event Recording system, which electronically monitors drivers for potentially dangerous behavior and actual signs of fatigue. The system compares the driver’s performance to that of other drivers, including sudden starts and stops, lane departures and the stability of the trailer.
That data, combined with Pulsar’s data, could give a fairly accurate picture of a driver who, if not a hazard on the road, may soon become one. The system would send an alert to the driver’s employer, stating that the driver should be contacted and asked to pull over, and the carrier could call the driver to discuss what’s going on and whether the driver needs to take a break.
Trimble also has a system of cameras that can be mounted on trucks to cover all sides of the vehicle and trailer. This video can be live-streamed to the driver’s employer, who can monitor how safely a driver is handling the vehicle. The system could include a camera pointed at the driver, which the employer can use to directly view his or her actions.
This technology has the potential to make commercial trucks safer, but it’s not perfect. Owner-operators are their own bosses, so they may heed or ignore their feelings of fatigue. Many trucking companies are small and may be unable or unwilling to invest in the latest technology.
It’s the human element that plays the greatest role in truck safety, not data collected by sensors and video shot by cameras. How much is a driver willing to risk to drive more miles in a day? How much pressure do trucking companies and customers put on drivers to complete routes? If the people in the commercial trucking industry don’t value safety, all the technology you can pack into a tractor trailer won’t make any difference.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicle accident involving a commercial truck, contact our office to schedule a free consultation so we can discuss what happened, how the law may apply in your case and what you can do to protect your right to compensation for the injuries you suffered.