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How tech can address trucker fatigue and distractions

Truckers in North Carolina are probably aware of the dangers they face on the road, especially distraction and fatigue. NHTSA reports that there are as many as 100,000 fatigue-related crashes every year, and the National Center for Statistics and Analysis finds that distracted driving is behind 10 percent of all fatal crashes and 15 percent of all injury crashes.

There are technologies that can help prevent truckers from falling asleep or engaging in distracting activities, partly by rewarding truckers for safe driving and coaching them on best practices. Omnitracs has products that can keep track of real-time driving behavior, weather and traffic conditions as well as the trucker's hours-of-service data, alerting the trucker when he or she is at risk for a "fatigue event."

At the same time, Omnitracs emphasizes the need for intervention on the part of managers. Managers can determine if long hours or night driving are to blame for the fatigue or if other factors are involved. These could include a busy weekend, lengthy haul and delivery times, and shift changes that lead to changes in sleep and eating patterns.

MiX Telematics offers a system that detects both fatigue and distraction, even integrating the Guardian System from Seeing Machines. This detects eye movements like droopy eyelids and alerts truckers with alarms or vibrations in the seat.

Even low-tech tools can be effective in preventing fatigue- and distraction-related trucking accidents; however, it's up to the truckers to use them. If they choose not to and cause an accident through their own fault, their trucking company may end up facing an injury claim. Victims may want a lawyer to negotiate for a settlement on their behalf and prepare the case for court if one cannot be achieved. A successful claim might cover medical expenses, lost wages, vehicle damage and more.

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