Types of Truck Safety Equipment That May Reduce Accidents
Driving semis, rigs, 18-wheelers, box trucks, and any other type of truck of any size is dangerous. Oklahoma City truck drivers need a commercial driver’s license to drive most types of heavy trucks because of the dangers. Trucks have blind spots which make it difficult to see around all sides of the truck. The cargo can shift or spill which can cause multiple-vehicle accidents. Drivers of small cars can be crushed if their vehicle gets under the truck. Trucks can easily jackknife or rollover if the driver isn’t careful.
Drivers should be held responsible for any accidents they cause. Trucking companies have a duty to inspect their trucks and vet their drivers. Trucking companies and owners are also required to comply with federal safety regulations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that trucks have specific types of equipment and that the trucks be loaded properly. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that truck drivers comply with hours of service rules and other regulations.
One way to help ensure that truck accidents don’t happen is through technology. Fleet Owner, a transportation publication, recommends that truck owners and trucking companies consider acquiring and using the following technologies:
- Dynamic routing. Dynamic routing is a software application that allows companies and drivers to change their routes based on traffic and weather conditions – in real time. Dynamic routing software can save the driver time so that he/she doesn’t have to speed to get to the destination on time. With dynamic routing, dispatchers may be able to add in additional stops so the distance between each stop is reduced, which should cause less stress and fatigue. Better routes can also help save on fuel costs. Dynamic routing may be especially useful during peak travel hours or peak seasons.
- Forward-looking camera systems. These are essentially “dash cams” that use video to track the truck’s movements. While they’ve been around for a while, the newer forward-looking camera systems are now better good for nighttime travel (in addition to daytime travel) and can store more images than older models. This technology is often used by the trucking company and driver to defend the driver – but it can be used by victims to show that a driver was negligent, too. Newer camera models, like SmartDrive, are being used to “combat distracted driving by using a camera to monitor trouble signs like drivers talking on cell phones while operating a truck.”
- Driver Scorecards. This technology helps trucking companies focus on problem areas such as hard braking and reckless driving. Reckless driving can cause Oklahoma City truck accidents. Reckless driving also causes greater truck wear and tear which makes the trucks less safe. Driving scorecard software can help “coach” the driver so the driver operates his/her truck more safely. Newer driving scorecard software is using artificial intelligence and computer vision. For example, camera vision can “‘see’ things that are not inertial-based, like if a driver goes through a red light, does a rolling right turn on a stop sign, came too close to a pedestrian, or is speeding 20 mph faster than the flow of traffic.”
- Collision Mitigation Technology. According to Fleet Owner and FMCSA research, “heavy trucks and buses accounted for about 4% of registered vehicles and 9% of total miles driven but were involved in 13% of accidents and 13% of overall traffic fatalities.”
A key factor in why trucks are so deadly is their mass and size, so technology is focusing on reducing avoidable truck collisions – especially trucks that carry fuel and dangerous cargo where spills can be a nightmare. Collision mitigation technology uses sensing technology to anticipate conditions that may cause an accident and takes immediate action to help avoid the accident.
Many new trucks have this new technology. The technology, according to Fleet Owner, can also be retrofitted for older vehicles. One system uses video and radar to look for obstacles on the road. Some systems are designed to mitigate against rollovers and accidents due to loss of control. Some systems also have blind-spot collision protection technology.
Other collision mitigation technology focuses on driving behavior instead of road monitoring. The technology alerts drivers to “trouble zones” such as off-ramps and software that sends truck weight and load data to “to participating weigh stations and inspection sites” so trucks can drive by the weight station. The developers are working with law enforcement and other companies to test and develop the software.
Other truck safety devices and technology
As of December 2017, US interstate trucking companies must have electronic logging devices (ELDs). These devices electronically track and record the drivers’ hours of service to ensure drivers comply with the FMCS regulations that they’re getting enough rest. Commercial trucks are also required to have rear safety guards to prevent small cars from riding under the truck. Truck manufacturers and companies should consider side safety guards, too.
Other new safety technology includes:
- Dual facing cameras – not just single cameras.
- Speed limitation devices.
- Wearable technology to provide alerts when drivers are tired.
Newer trucks should have the latest technology. Companies and drivers may be liable for a trucking accident if they don’t. Even trucks without the latest technology can often add the latest inventions, hardware, and software – at a minimal cost compared to the cost of someone’s life or long-term injuries.
At Cunningham & Mears, we work to hold truck drivers and trucking companies liable for the accidents they cause. We also file product liability claims against manufacturers when their technology is defective and an accident happens due to the defect. We work with truck safety experts and other professionals to show what technology the truck was lacking or why the technology was defective. Our lawyers demand compensation for our client’s medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, property damage, and other economic and non-economic losses.
To discuss any Oklahoma City truck accident claim, call us at (405) 232-1212, or get in touch with us by completing our contact form. Our office is located in Oklahoma City. We handle personal injury and wrongful death claims on a contingency fee basis.
Ryan Y. Cunningham is a founding partner of Cunningham & Mears. Mr. Cunningham devotes his practice to protecting the rights of injured Oklahoma residents. In addition to assisting injured clients, Mr. Cunningham endeavors to improve personal injury representation by speaking on issues related to personal injury law to attorneys in continuing legal education courses and to law students. Learn More