The trucking industry is an essential part of the North Dakota economy, with commercial trucks transporting cargo and materials across the state and throughout the country. However, as the number of heavy trucks on the roads increases, so does the risk of accidents.
The North Dakota Department of Transportation reports 734 truck accidents across the state in 2021, resulting in 273 injuries and 11 fatalities. That’s a crash nearly every 12 hours. While a nearly endless variety of factors contribute to truck accidents, new and developing technology has the potential to play a significant role in preventing many of them. Today we want to talk about some existing and upcoming tech that can help lower the risk of commercial truck accidents – and keep everyone on the road safer.
Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS)
One of the most promising areas of accident-prevention technology is advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). An ADAS uses sensors, cameras, and other technologies to help drivers avoid crashes and collisions while on the road. You may even have an ADAS in your own vehicle. Examples of ADAS in commercial trucks include:
- Collision avoidance. These use cameras and sensors to detect any objects or obstacles in a truck’s path and alert the driver of the risk of an oncoming collision. Some systems will even automatically apply the brakes.
- Lane departure warnings. This system uses cameras to monitor a truck’s position in its lane and alerts the driver if the vehicle starts to drift.
- Blind spot detection. These use sensors to detect vehicle’s in a truck’s many blind spots, and alert the driver if there’s a risk of collision.
- Adaptive cruise control. These systems use radar to detect the distance between a truck and other vehicles on the road and adjust the truck’s speed accordingly.
Most new fleets come with ADAS standard. However, older fleets can be retrofit with ADAS to help improve overall safety and prevent accidents – making it a valuable investment for trucking companies.
Another technology that can help improve safety and prevent commercial truck accidents is telematics. Telematics systems use GPS technology to track a truck’s location and speed, and employ other sensors to monitor things like fuel consumption, engine performance, and driver behavior.
Telematics systems analyze all this data and use it to help identify potential safety issues, before they become serious problems. For example, if a driver is consistently speeding, the telematics system can alert the company and their supervisor can provide coaching to improve their driving habits, before an accident occurs. Telematics can also do things like identify driver fatigue and ensure a driver is taking enough breaks and is well-rested while they are on the road.
Further, by monitoring fuel consumption and engine performance, companies can also identify areas where they can save money on fuel and maintenance.
Electronic logging devices (ELDs)
ELDs are mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and can help prevent truck accidents by ensuring drivers comply with hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. These devices connect to the truck’s engine and record a driver’s hours, including driving time, off-duty time, and rest breaks.
Using ELDs help trucking companies ensure that drivers are not working beyond the legal limit and are taking enough breaks to avoid driving fatigued. They help reduce the risk of accidents caused by drivers under pressure to meet tight delivery deadlines – assuming, of course, neither the ELD vendor nor the trucking company engages in illegal behavior.
Automatic emergency braking (AEB)
Automatic emergency braking can help prevent accidents by automatically applying the brakes if a collision is imminent. AEB uses cameras and sensors to detect obstacles or objects in a truck’s path and can apply the brakes even if the driver is unable to react in time. Because AEB is so effective in preventing accidents, it is required in all new trucks. Further, older fleets can retrofit their trucks with AEB for extra safety.
In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates “that large-truck AEB could prevent up to 11,499 crashes, 7,703 injury crashes, and 173 fatal crashes each year.”
Intelligent transportation systems (ITS)
Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) are a collection of technologies that work together as a whole to improve the safety of the transportation system. ITS can include technologies like traffic management systems, smart infrastructures, and connected vehicles.
One of the ways ITS can help prevent truck accidents is by providing real-time traffic information and alerts to truck drivers with connected vehicle technology. Truckers can receive information and traffic and road closures in time to allow them to adjust their routes and avoid any potential hazards.
ITS can even help improve the efficiency of the entire transportation system by reducing congestion and the risk of truck accidents caused by traffic backups. An ITS can help coordinate traffic signals, improving the flow of traffic and cutting down on the traffic that contributes to accidents and collisions.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
AI can help tie all of these systems together and play a significant role in preventing truck accidents by analyzing large amounts of data to identify patterns and trends. For example, AI can take data from telematics systems and identify drivers who may be at a higher risk of accidents due to their driving behavior. Companies can then provide extra coaching and training to these drivers.
Or, AI may identify certain vehicles that are at risk of breaking down and companies can get those vehicles off the road for repair before an accident occurs. By using AI to collect and analyze data from a wide variety of sources, all drivers, including truckers, can be safer on the road.
By investing in these various technologies, truck companies are also investing in safety – safety for their drivers and safety for the general public.
If you were severely injured in a commercial truck accident, Larson Law Firm, P.C. wants to help. We can protect your right to financial compensation and answer all of your questions in a free consultation. To talk to a skilled and experienced Fargo injury lawyer to today, just call us or complete our contact form today. We maintain offices in Minot, Bismarck, and Fargo.
Mark Larson is a Certified Civil Trial Specialist and Certified Civil Pre-Trial Specialist focusing on personal injury, motor vehicle, wrongful death, and oil field claims. Since 1979, Larson Law Firm has served the injured throughout North Dakota. Read more about Mark V. Larson