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New Safety Features on Semi Trucks Could Improve Highway Safety

Published July 20, 2016 by Scott Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney

While many of us appreciate the crucial role the trucking industry plays in delivering the products we use on a daily basis, encountering these big rigs while on the road puts many drivers on the defensive. Being sandwiched between two trucks or having one come up alongside or behind you can cause many of us to clench our own steering wheels a bit tighter, and for good reason. Trucking accidents and injuries are an unfortunately common occurrence, and a passenger vehicle is generally no match for a semi-truck when it comes to protecting the driver and passengers in an accident.

To help avoid accidents involving trucks, improved safety features are being developed that combine the latest available technology geared toward preventing the common causes of these accidents. Among the latest developments, the recently unveiled Samsung Safety Truck uses advances in technology to help increase motorist visibility around trucks in hopes of increasing overall safety. Though industry experts and government officials debate the pros and cons, these features may hold the key to improving overall highway safety.

New York Truck Accident Statistics

Take a closer look when shopping in your neighborhood market or department store and you will likely find an abundance of products that came from other states and countries, not to mention the products we have shipped to us from Internet-based retailers such as Amazon.

The American Trucking Association (ATA) asserts that beyond fulfilling our personal preferences and tastes when it comes to the products we use, the trucking industry is an important part of the national economy. The ATA reports that 70 percent of all freight items are carried to various areas throughout the country via semi-trucks and tractor-trailers, amounting to roughly 9.2 billion tons per year. In order to accomplish this feat, it requires roughly 37 billion gallons of diesel fuel, and as many as 3 million heavy-duty Class 8 trucks and drivers.

While the trucking industry provides both jobs and revenue for New York in terms of highway taxes and tolls, the overall increase in big rigs and semi-trucks on our roads, highways, and interstates has resulted in a corresponding increase in trucking accidents and injuries. Crash data from the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) shows that the overall number of these accidents has risen by nearly 20 percent over the last three years.

The following are among the latest statistics on trucking accidents and injuries, according to New York DMV crash data:

  • Close to 12,000 trucking accidents occurred in the state of New York, involving roughly 50,000 motorists and their passengers.
  • Nearly 35 percent of those involved reported some form of injuries, while nearly 70 percent reported extensive property damage.
  • Of the injuries resulting from these accidents, only 15 percent were suffered by truck drivers. The overwhelming majority occurred among automobile drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

Pros and Cons of New Technology in Road Safety

According to an article on trucking accidents and safety in the New York Times, the sheer weight and bulk of semi-trucks means these vehicles have a disproportionately higher rate of serious injuries and fatalities when involved in an accident. The article cites the case of the trucking accident involving actor Tracy Morgan, which left him and eight others seriously injured and resulted in one fatality. Morgan’s accident occurred on the New Jersey Turnpike, and involved an 18-wheeler owned and operated by Wal-Mart. The driver had been on duty for more than 13 hours, and ignored posted signs warning of construction and lower speeds. When he encountered stalled traffic, the driver was unable to stop and slammed into the back of Morgan’s vehicle.

According to the New York Times report, the truck involved in the Morgan accident was equipped with a collision avoidance device, one of many new technological advances designed to help prevent and lessen the impact of accidents. Unfortunately, these devices are not required or regulated in this country, and in this case, it failed to function properly.

Safety features to prevent accidents, which are available and come standard on trucks overseas, include the following:

  • Collision avoidance and warning systems
  • Anti-lock braking and automatic braking systems
  • Electronic control systems, which can slow a truck down in the event a crash is imminent

While these systems show promising potential for both reducing the frequency and lessening the severity of trucking accidents, the U.S. the commercial trucking industry has been slow to embrace them due to the costs, which would ultimately be passed onto consumers through increased shipping charges.

How the New Samsung Safety Truck Could Help

Among the latest technological advances designed to reduce the number of trucking accidents and injuries is the Samsung Safety Truck. Hailed by electronics giant Samsung as an innovation that could revolutionize highway safety, the truck uses cameras mounted on its front grill to give motorists a view of traffic conditions ahead via monitors installed on the truck’s rear panel.

According to Samsung, one of the leading causes of trucking accidents involves situations in which vehicles attempt to pass or switch lanes behind slower-moving trucks. Without proper visibility, drivers are likely to increase their rate of speed to make their move, unaware of potential dangers that lie ahead. The monitor would allow drivers to see past tall and bulky trucks and react to potentially unsafe conditions, such as stalled traffic or obstacles in the road, before making a lane change, and the system could also provide an early warning system for any impending accidents that may occur.

While the Samsung Safety Truck prototype is no longer operational, the company continues to work on both the technology and the permitting necessary to get these trucks on the road.

Have You Been Involved in a Trucking Accident?

If you or someone you care about has suffered injuries as the result of a trucking accident, contact Scott C. Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney, today. We provide the kind of aggressive legal representation you can trust to protect your rights and interests, while assisting you in holding responsible parties accountable so that you can get the compensation you need. We serve Binghamton and surrounding areas. Call or contact us online today for a free consultation.

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