Investigations often reveal car and truck accidents were caused by some deficiency or action by the driver of the commercial vehicle. It could be a distracted truck driver, one who is too fatigued to be driving or one with a medical condition or medication needs affecting operation. Whatever the case may be, injury-causing or fatal highway accidents involving tractor-trailers remain a concern.
Reports are that the trucking industry is seeking ways to improve safety and reduce liability risks. One of the nation’s largest freight trucking companies, for example, has started to equip its trucks with camera systems. The front-facing and driver-facing camera feeds are anticipated to help reduce the overall number of accidents that happen in the first place, according to the latest reporting. The theory is observation improves behavior.
Statistics behind the change include the 2012 report of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association estimating the average cost of a truck crash with injuries at $195,258. A fatal crash is over $3.5 million. Both are substantial financial costs for the trucking companies. Nationwide, over 4,000 truck accident fatalities per year are noted. Settlements to victims generally exceed a business’s mandated insurance coverage of $750,000 per accident. Reports are the largest settlement in 2014 was over $34 million. The latest research by the FMCSA notes the decline in fatalities experienced over many years is reversing of late. Fatal truck crashes per mile traveled between 2011 and 2012 have increased by three percent.
Drivers, it’s reported, aren’t supportive of the cameras. Many cite invasion of privacy concerns and detrimental oversight. Company officials urged drivers not to rush to judgment, taking the position the cameras allow them to watch out for drivers, not to watch over them. Video would only be uploaded to a database if a swerve, hard brake or other unusual event triggers the archive.
Safety initiatives are usually welcome as Californians recognize accident prevention is better than dealing with the aftermath. But future accident investigation and claims processes will show whether or not camera use will limit the carriers’ liability when one does occur.
Source: Fortune, “There’s pressure in the industry to monitor truck drivers—and drivers aren’t happy,” David Z. Morris, May. 26, 2015