The trucking industry is the use of road transportation by semi-trucks/big rigs/tractor-trailers/18-wheelers to transport goods across long and short distances. It’s a subcategory of both the transportation and warehousing industries, and it’s also a very important part of the U.S. economy.
Despite how important this industry is to the United States, there are also major problems associated with the trucking industry— the most notable being the half a million trucking accidents that occur each year. These accidents claim the lives of thousands (both truck drivers and other drivers on the road) each year.
On a more positive note, the trucking industry is seeing a lot of new technological advancements each year. Now the question is: Do any of these technologies help to reduce the number of wrecks involving semi-trucks? Here’s a look at some of the latest technology in the trucking industry.
Tech Trends in Trucking
Collision Mitigation and Avoidance
Collisons, whether they’re fatal or not, are one of the biggest issues within the trucking industry. These huge vehicles weigh thousands of pounds (several tons), meaning that they can still do a significant amount of damage to a smaller vehicle even when driving at slower speeds. For this reason, collision mitigation and avoidance technologies are rapidly growing within this industry.
Crash avoidance systems were developed to alert truck drivers when they were about to crash into a vehicle in front of them. From here, the driver can respond appropriately.
However, if the driver can’t respond in time, the brakes are automatically triggered to help avoid, or mitigate the impact of the crash.
Truck accidents can be the fault of the truck driver or even the fault of the driver of a passenger vehicle. Because of this, dual-facing cameras record the inside and outside of the truck, allowing truck carriers to monitor their drivers and traffic.
Unsafe driving habits (if any are detected) can then be discussed with the driver, resulting in safer roads for everyone.
Another rapidly growing piece of technology in the trucking industry is that dynamic routing. With the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning, this helps determine the best routes for drivers to take. This helps drivers make their deliveries on time and conserve fuel by not taking unnecessary roads.
As far as vehicle safety for other cars on the road is concerned, this can be both helpful and harmful. Since the goal is to avoid unnecessary paths, some semi-trucks have to take non-highway and even residential roads— especially if their delivery is nearby.
This has the potential to cause minor wrecks on these roads, but the majority of semi-involved accidents occur on the highway.
Electronic Logging Devices (EDLs)
EDLs make sure that truck drivers are complying with regulations by tracking and recording their hours. This seems to only benefit trucking companies, but it has the potential to make roads safer as well.
EDLs can ensure that the drivers are being productive while they work and that they’re not being overworked, which can lead to burnout, fatigue, and ultimately, more wrecks on the road.
Also known as autonomous vehicles, self-driving vehicles aren’t relatively new in the consumer world, but they are in the trucking world. Prototypes are being tested currently, and may even begin to limit the number of human drivers on the road. Artificial intelligence will help these trucks navigate the highways safely, reducing the amount of fatigued truck drivers on the road.
The only problem is that many fear that this will put many truck drivers out of business and that autonomous trucks won’t be completely safe. Most would agree that truck drivers will still need to be controlled by truck drivers to some extent.
Still, this is an intriguing idea for safety since many trucking accidents are caused by exhausted truck drivers— in which case you should contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers if you were involved in a semi-truck accident.
The most deadly trucking accidents occur when semi-trucks are going at high speeds (which can be up to 80mph on some interstates), so speed limiters have been introduced to help mitigate this issue. However, slower driving semi-trucks can also cause accidents on the highways.
In 2016, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed speed limiters for commercial vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds.
Collision mitigation and avoidance technologies seem to have had the greatest impact on reducing semi-related crashes on highways. However, in the coming years, the others may better help to significantly reduce the amount of semi-related crashes.