How Technology is Reducing Semi-truck Accidents

reducing semi truck accidentsAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of fatalities in accidents involving semi-trucks has been on the rise since 2012. Increases as large as 18 per cent in some instances have continued to blight the American Trucking Association’s reputation every time the local 5:00 news runs a story about an unfortunate pile up on the highway.
Many experts point to driver fatigue as a contributing factor – which as anyone in an auto mechanic college knows, is the prevailing cause of semi-truck accidents on the road today.  However, emerging technology that helps combat this dangerous problem, as well as safer designs on trucks points to a much brighter future of the world of cross-country trucking.

Driver Fatigue Monitoring Gear

The ATA has confirmed that several companies are in the final stages of releasing perfected versions of fatigue monitoring gear that will keep drivers from falling asleep while behind the wheel.  Aside from the advancing age of truckers, drivers on a long haul can also become enticed with the repetition of painted lines, leading to a hypnotic state.  Monitoring gear uses several different ways to prevent this.  Delphi Automotive is developing Driver State Monitor, a mounted camera that tracks the eyelids of the driver.  Should their lids begin to droop or blink rapidly, an audible alarm will sound a warning.
Initially, experts were skeptical of monitoring gear, claiming the eyelid technology would not work at night.  There was also concern that the audio warnings would be ineffective for drivers.  Delphi has since assuaged such concerned, leaping over any technical hurdles.  Even more significantly, installation of the monitors will range from $2,000 to $2,500 per vehicle – a small price to pay for even one less life lost on the road.

Automatic Brakes

Meritor WEBCO has developed automatic brakes that deploy when radar senses an imminent crash on the road.  This is in keeping with the continued modern trend of self-driving vehicles which one might learn about in automotive mechanics school.  The technology also adjusts distances between vehicles while in cruise control to anticipate potential accidents.  This, alongside the driver monitor gear, could prevent up to 300 road deaths a year and gain an estimated $3.1 in economic benefits.

Electronic Stability Control

Another common road-hazard caused by semi-trucks anyone in auto mechanic training is familiar with is when loads being transported suddenly shift in traffic, becoming dislodged during a sudden brake or turn.  Electronic stability control has been used in regular cars for years, but just recently has the NHTSA moved into the final stages of requiring all semi-trucks to utilize the technology.  The system controls loads during hard brakes which occur if a car suddenly pulls out in front of the truck while also doing its part to prevent rollovers.

Advancements in Underguard Design

Technological wonders haven’t been the only developments in modern truck safety.  Just last year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety unveiled more strict policies on underride guards to prevent cars from sliding beneath the trailer of a semi.

What else do you think we can do to keep truckers safe on the road?

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