Young & McCarthy LLP

Technology helps trucking companies prevent distracted driving

Ohio residents may think of cell phone use or sophisticated navigation and entertainment systems when the subject of distracted driving is raised, but studies have found that motorists who are lost in thought could be an even bigger danger. This is an especially serious problem when the vehicles involved are semi-tractor trailers that can weigh as much as 40 tons. The commercial trucking industry has turned to the technology sector and smartphone makers to help them tackle the issue.

The freight management company Omnitracs recently added a module to its online Driving Center that is designed to alert truck drivers or their employers about possible drowsy or distracted driving situations. The module uses hours of service data to monitor how long truck drivers spend behind the wheel, and it sends warnings when they begin their shifts after only brief rest periods or remain on duty after spending hours negotiating heavily congested city streets.

Other solutions for distracted driving include systems that monitor drivers using in-vehicle cameras and send audible or visual signals when their heads nod, or their eyes wander, and smartphone applications that shut off distracting features when vehicles are in motion. Large companies, including Anheuser Busch, are investing heavily in this technology because serious truck accidents caused by distracted, drowsy or impaired drivers can damage reputations as well as claim the lives of innocent road users.

Experienced personal injury attorneys may pay close attention to hours of service regulations when their clients may have suffered injury, loss or damage caused by fatigued or distracted truck drivers. Freight moving companies often put their drivers under great pressure to complete their journeys as quickly as possible, and they may face both official sanctions and civil lawsuits when federal hours of service regulations are ignored just so that deadlines can be met.

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