In recent decades, various technological innovations have become common, if not mandatory, on commercial trucks in an effort to make these massive vehicles safer on the road. Some are similar to those that most of us have in our cars, like GPS and automated emergency braking systems.
Most commercial trucks are required to have electronic logging devices (ELDs) to record when they’re on and off duty. This prevents truckers from falsifying logs (either on their own or because their employers require them to) to indicate that they’re complying with federal Hours of Service (HOS) requirements. These requirements are in place to help prevent drivers from staying behind the wheel too long or not taking enough time to rest between trips.
While speed limiters aren’t yet mandatory in the U.S., they could be one day in the not-so-distant future. In the United Kingdom, where they are required, truck drivers have reported that this technology sometimes causes them to “disassociate” from their driving.
Autonomous trucks create an even greater danger of disassociation
While there are few autonomous or “self-driving” commercial trucks on the road, that day is coming. Even the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recognizes that they “present an environment that is ripe for overreliance.” It’s finding ways to evaluate how this increasing reliance on automation affects drivers’ situational awareness of what’s going on around them and even with their own vehicle.
When drivers have fewer aspects of driving to worry about, they can easily become distracted by other things. They also tend to rely on an alarm to sound or a light to flash when someone is in their blind spot or they’ve drifted out of their lane. They may even rely on their vehicle to self-correct or even slow or stop to avoid a collision.
These things can also cause what’s called “attentional blindness.” That’s where a driver sees but doesn’t actually register something ahead or to the side of them.
The bottom line is that the driver of a commercial truck is still responsible for operating their vehicle safely, and that’s where their attention should be at all times. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a crash caused by a negligent or reckless truck driver, you may be looking at many thousands of dollars in medical expenses and other financial losses and damages. It’s crucial to get the legal guidance you need to ensure a fair settlement.