For anyone who follows this blog it should come as no surprise that 2014 was not a good year for automotive safety. 2014 saw not only the emergence of a glut of defective vehicles through the GM ignition switch and Takata airbag problems, but also problems regarding fatigued commercial drivers in the trucking industry. In fact, the fatal accident that killed James “Jimmy Mack” McNair and severely injured comedian Tracy Morgan serves as a stark representation of the deadly and life-altering consequences fatigued driving and speeding can have.
In fact, according to statistics provided by NHTSA nearly 4,000 lives were lost in commercial trucking accident during 2012 alone. Furthermore, more than $50 billion in economic damages are inflicted by commercial trucking accidents.
The Effects of Fatigued Driving Are Similar to That of Drunk Driving
Fatigued driving is a behavior that many people have engaged in and, most likely, rationalized as something everyone does. Despite being more socially acceptable than drinking and driving, fatigued driving presents many of the same risks and problems that drunk or buzzed driving presents. Fatigue dulls the senses while impairing decision-making and reaction times. In fact, according to the CDC after 18 hours without rest an individual’s level of cognitive impairment is similar to that of a individual with a BAC of 0.05%. After a full 24 hours without sleep a person has a level of impairment that is equivalent to a 0.10% BAC.
Can Electronic Truck Logs Stop Fatigued Driving?
A potential solution behind the problem of fatigued driving an hours of service violations is the creation of electronic logging devices. While truck drivers have long been required to keep a log book, traditional logging was done through pen and paper allowing truck drivers and trucking companies to engage in some dishonest practices and permitting uncertainty regarding the quality and authenticity of the records. Proponents of electronic monitoring and logging devices of trucks believe that the out-of-sight, out-of-mind and automatic nature of these devices should force all companies to play by the rules. Statistics appear to bear this idea out. An NHTSA study found trucking companies that use electronic logs reported 11.7% fewer crashes compared to trucking fleets using traditional paper logs. Another study found trucking fleets that used electronic technology had 53% fewer hour of service violations assessed against its drivers.
However, electronic logging is not a panacea for all causes of fatigued driving. One of the basic tenets of technology is that as systems become more complex, so will the technology used to fool these systems. For instance, consider that electronic point-of-sale devices were supposed to make logging sales in retail locations more accurate and reliable. However, the development of “Zapper” software now allows business owners to fraudulently alter their sales records. There is no reason a similar software tool could not be developed to exploit and manipulate electronic trucking logs.
Can Electronic Speed Limiters Prevent Accidents Due to Speeding?
Electronic speed limiters are devices which can artificially limit the maximum speed a vehicle can travel at. Speed is an important factor to address because, as it was in the Tracy Morgan accident, speed plays a role in roughly 20 percent of all accidents. Speed doesn’t just make the possibility of an accident greater, higher speeds also typically mean more severe injuries are inflicted. Limiting the speed of trucks can also, theoretically, reduce the severity of injuries when they do occur.
However, limiting the speed of trucks to 55 miles per an hour without making other changes may result in unforeseen consequences. In many states speed limits are at or in excess of 70 miles per an hour. Limiting the speed of large commercial trucks to 55mph may encourage other drivers to weave through traffic to get around the slower moving vehicles. The danger created by these frequent, erratic lane changes may supplant any safety gains made by slowing down large trucks.
Injured by a Commercial Truck in Arkansas? Call Our Personal Injury Lawyers
If you or a loved one have suffered serious injuries due to a fatigued truck driver or a speeding commercial truck, Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyer Ken Kieklak, can help. For more than 20 years we have fought to hold careless, reckless, and negligent parties accountable for the injuries, pain, suffering, and other damages they inflict. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with an Arkansas commercial truck accident lawyer call us at (479) 316-0438 or contact us online today.