The last time that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration conducted a large-truck crash causation study was in the early 2000s. In January 2020, the FMCSA announced that it is seeking information on how to proceed with another such study: one that will take into account the various changes, especially technological changes, that have impacted the trucking industry in Florida and across the U.S. in the last two decades.
For example, there are changes in driver behaviors, roadway design and vehicle safety that may be a factor in many accidents. The study will focus on tow-away, injury and fatal accidents. The number of fatal large-truck crashes in particular has risen significantly: 52.6% between 2009 and 2018. The year 2018 saw 4,415 such crashes.
Drivers’ behaviors are becoming more conditioned by the presence of phones, in-cab navigation systems and fleet management systems as well as by vehicle safety features like automatic emergency braking. The FMCSA will be able to gather information on these behavioral changes through the truckers’ on-board electronic systems, which note when truckers speed, drift out of their lane or brake suddenly.
Researchers intend to create strategies for crash avoidance and mitigation, even for vehicles with high or full automation. They hope to determine what capabilities should be incorporated in future automated systems.
Distracted driving is one of the obvious concerns that the study will be addressing. This is becoming one of the most widespread factors in truck crashes, but fortunately, those who are injured at the hands of a distracted driver can still be eligible for compensation under personal injury law. In this state, the damages that plaintiffs recover will be limited by their own degree of fault. To see if they have a strong case, victims may consult a lawyer.