A 2005 crash between a Whole Foods Market truck and a bus carrying a high school marching band, left five people dead. An investigation followed, and officials concluded that the accident was caused by truck driver fatigue. The tragic accident highlighted the need to address driver fatigue, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) responded by recommending a series of technology advancements with the potential to reduce truck crashes.
Over 30,000 people have lost their lives in truck accidents since that 2005 crash and yet the technology recommendations issued by the NTSB - most of which cost between $500 and $2,500 to implement - have sat in review at the U.S. Department of Transportation. Why? According to safety advocate, Henry Jasny from the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, a lack of political will is holding up the technology that could help save lives on the road.
Just what are some of these technological advancements in truck safety? Below are a few that have drawn interest over the last few years:
According to a study by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), crash-avoidance technology that automatically engages a truck's brakes prior to a crash, would save up to 300 lives per year and produce $3.1 billion in economic benefits. This technology already exists. According to Bloomberg, a truck could be outfitted with the technology for less than $2,500.
A new device under development, called the Driver State Monitor, uses sensors to detect if a driver is moving their head or blinking in a way that would indicate that they are drowsy. The device sounds an alarm, to alert the driver if they seem to be falling asleep. The sensors can catch eye movement, even if the driver is wearing sunglasses. The Driver State Monitor is likely to be available in 2016.
Driver Seat Cameras
Trucking companies are already increasingly using onboard cameras to see if their drivers are engaging in any reckless behaviors. Safety managers say the video camera changes driver’s behavior for the better and can be outfitted on any truck at a cost of less than $500.