Young & McCarthy LLP

Addressing the manipulation of truck safety devices

From collision mitigation systems to in-cab cameras, a host of safety devices are being introduced in commercial trucks across Ohio and the rest of the US. Yet many truckers, unhappy about the change, are finding ways to manipulate or disable the technology.

For example, YouTube videos have taught many truckers how to cut the wires going to the in-cab camera or slide a business card behind it so that it cannot record what truckers are doing. Some individuals have learned to disable the lane departure warning by pushing the button and jamming it with paper. They can unplug speakers and disable the steering-wheel sensor.

This growing trend was the subject of the Technology & Maintenance Council's safety systems seminar during its annual meeting for 2019. The speaker, who spent 15 years as an instructor in heavy-duty truck systems and is now regional director of Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, says that lack of training may have made truckers distrustful of the technology.

He says that truck fleet owners have a duty to introduce each device to truckers. It is crucial to explain the limitations too. Driver assist systems, while helpful, are not meant to take over for drivers. If truckers have a complaint, they should be heard out, and a technician should be able to address the problems. Yet sometimes even the technician does not understand the technology.

If nothing is done, vehicle safety tech will never fulfill its purpose, which is to prevent truck accidents. However well trained they may be, though, truckers can still choose to act in careless or reckless ways. When truck drivers injure others through their negligence, victims may be able to file a claim and be compensated for their losses. With legal guidance, they may strive for a settlement with the trucking company or take the case to court.

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