Trucking Companies Need to Invest in Life-Saving Technology
Existing truck safety technology could prevent tens of thousands of devastating truck crashes each year, but many trucking companies are slow to adopt these innovations, citing short-term cost concerns.
However, a new study challenges these arguments and suggests that the costs that result from deadly truck wrecks far outweigh the expenses companies would take on by installing life-saving truck safety technology.
Truck Safety Technology Can Make Our Roads Safer
A wide variety of truck safety technologies currently on the market can reduce truck accident injuries and fatalities. While some of these technologies are highly advanced, involving sensors, cameras, and telecommunications, others are as simple as an improved braking system or an underride guard.
According to a 2017 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study, several of these technologies together could help prevent 63,000 or more large truck crashes each year. The study weighed the costs and benefits associated with the following technologies:
- Air disc brakes: Air pressure and mechanical systems that significantly reduce a truck’s stopping distance.
- Automatic braking systems: Forward-facing sensors that can warn a truck driver about an impending collision. If the truck driver does not respond to this alert, the system will automatically apply the truck’s brakes.
- Lane departure systems: A series of sensors and cameras that monitor the truck’s position on the road. If the vehicle starts to drift into another lane unexpectedly, the driver receives an alert. Unlike automatic braking systems, lane departure systems do not automatically correct the driver’s error.
- Video-based safety monitoring systems: Cameras, sensors, and other onboard equipment that record and monitor a truck driver’s behavior. Telematic systems notify a trucking company in real time if a trucker is driving carelessly or a truck’s mechanical systems are failing. In addition, onboard monitoring systems can also provide valuable evidence during a truck accident lawsuit.
Based on its research, AAA estimated the total number of annual crashes that trucking companies could prevent by installing each of these technologies on all new and existing trucks. Those numbers are as follows:
- Air disc brakes:
- 2,411 crashes
- 1,447 injuries
- 37 deaths
- Automatic braking systems:
- 5,294 crashes
- 2,753 injuries
- 55 deaths
- Lane departure systems:
- 6,372 crashes
- 1,342 injuries
- 115 deaths
- Video-based safety monitoring systems:
- 63,000 crashes
- 17,733 injuries
- 293 deaths
Note that the numbers sometimes overlap between the different technologies; in other words, video-based monitoring systems would prevent the most crashes, and many of those crashes are the same ones that would also be prevented if companies implemented the other three technologies. This means that onboarding monitoring systems have by far the greatest potential impact among the four technology categories studied.
Why Don’t More Trucking Companies Use Truck Safety Technology?
Trucking companies have consistently resisted federal mandates that would require them to install some or all of these truck safety technologies. They’ve typically argued that the technologies are expensive, burdensome, and not as effective as advocates say.
For example, in 2016, truck companies and drivers fought regulations that required companies to use electronic logging device (ELDs), arguing these devices were ineffective and violated drivers’ privacy rights. The trucking lobby similarly opposed a rule requiring speed limiters that the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission (NHTSA) recommended in 2016.
However, these arguments against implementing truck safety technology aren’t supported by facts. The average cost to install the technologies recommended by AAA amounts to only a few thousand dollars per vehicle. For example, installing lane departure systems typically costs between $301 and $2,000 per truck but could prevent 6,372 truck accidents each year. Similarly, video-based monitoring systems typically cost between $350 and $750 per truck to install but could prevent 17,733 serious injuries annually.
While the cost per truck may add up in a large fleet, AAA concluded that those costs would be offset by the annual reduction in deadly truck accidents, which are incredibly costly. In its report, AAA estimated that the average tractor-trailer accident creates costs that total $383,000, while a fatal accident can easily cost millions of dollars. These costs include medical expenses, emergency response costs, property damage, lost productivity, and the monetary value of each victim’s pain and suffering.
The fact that many trucking companies would rather pay extraordinary litigation costs and damages as well as higher insurance premiums, all while allowing ordinary drivers to suffer terrible injuries or die in the resulting crashes, speaks volumes about their short-sightedness and lack of compassion.
Lawsuits May Pressure Trucking Companies to Adopt Truck Safety Technology
Since trucking companies clearly won’t implement these life-saving innovations unless they face enormous regulatory or financial pressure to do so, it’s important that every victim who suffers injuries in a trucking accident works with an experienced truck accident lawyer to file a personal injury claim and a lawsuit if necessary.
If you’ve been injured in a truck crash due to driver or trucking company negligence, a truck accident claim may be able to help pay for some or all of your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.
However, those aren’t the only important benefits of a lawsuit. Truck accident litigation forces trucking companies to face the human and financial costs of their negligent behavior. When you stand up to the trucking carriers and their insurance companies, you force them to assess their unsafe practices and the resulting costs. And, after a sizable verdict or settlement, the trucking company might finally recognize that a few thousand dollars for safety improvements is a cost they can’t afford not to pay.
Contact Seattle Truck Law if You’ve Been Hurt in a Trucking Accident
If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash involving a large truck or bus, Seattle Truck Law Attorney Morgan Adams is here to help. With years of experience and a sole focus on large vehicle cases, Mr. Adams is a powerful advocate for trucking accident victims and an experienced litigator who won’t hesitate to fight for your rights in court.
Please contact Seattle Truck Law at 866-580-HURT (4878) or fill out our online contact form if you need help. We offer free consultations to help you gain a better understanding of your legal options, and we handle cases on a contingent fee basis, which means that you’ll only pay fees or case expenses if we get you a settlement or win your case in court.
Leveraging large truck technology and engineering to realize safety gains (2017, September). AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Retrieved from https://www.aaafoundation.org/leveraging-large-truck-technology-and-engineering-realize-safety-gains.
The large truck crash causation study: analysis brief (2007, July). Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/research-and-analysis/large-truck-crash-causation-study-analysis-brief.
Safety technologies. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/safety-technologies.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.