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Trucking Industry Doubts Effectiveness of New Technology

There is a constant struggle between the implementing new technology as a means of improving safety on the road and the cost and practicality of that technology. After its July (2013) board meeting, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is touting the effectiveness of new technology that allows vehicles to talk to each other. However, some people in the trucking industry do not believe that the technology will have the intended safety benefits and argue that this is just the latest in a long line of expensive burdens placed on a struggling industry.

The impetus for the latest recommendation was two fatal school bus accidents in Florida and New Jersey. The New Jersey crash was caused when a school bus failed to yield to a trash hauling truck and a young girl died. The NTSB has professed its belief that if the vehicles were in communication with each other, the school bus driver would have realized the truck was quickly approaching the intersection and stopped, avoiding the tragic fatality. Unfortunately, accidents involving heavy trucks are common and often involve serious injury. If you have been harmed in an accident with a truck, the Miami truck accident attorneys at Greenberg Stone and Urbano can help you get the compensation that you need to restore your quality of life.

On July 23, 2013, the NTSB held a board meeting in Washington, D.C. and resolved to recommend that the federal government establish performance standards for new technology that permits vehicles on the road to “talk” to each other, theoretically giving drivers the information necessary to avoid accidents. The NTSB also recommended that the government mandate that all new vehicles have the technology installed.

The technology at issue would enable vehicles to communicate with other vehicles within a range of approximately 1,000 feet. The information transmitted would include the location of the vehicle, the rate of speed, and the direction of travel ten times per second over wireless networks. The device has a computer that processes the information and issues warnings to the driver about potential dangers. The driver still has to react to potential hazard in a reasonable manner. The NTSB has been testing this technology on the roads for the past year.

Skeptics of the new technology believe that any safety benefits are negligible. Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) spokesperson Todd Spencer argues that the technology is unproven and there are better ways to spend the resources, including improving driver training, according to a story in Landline Magazine. Mr. Spencer also pointed out the fact that the recommendation does not take into account cost and feasibility.

This is not the first time the OOIDA has argued against the recommendations of the NTSB. The battle over electronic onboard recorders (EOBRs) to replace paper logs has been a protracted battle where OOIDA has argued that the EOBRs are costly and burdensome with no safety benefits while the NTSB had made the mandatory use of EOBRs one of its top priorities. OOIDA contended that the EOBRs were not more reliable than traditional logs. Despite the opposition, the requirement for EOBRs was passed by the U.S. Congress, although the actual regulation has not been finalized by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and it likely will be another two years before trucks are required to install the new technology. Approximately 35% of truck industry carriers have voluntarily adopted the technology. Some opponents of EOBRs claim that there has to be manual driver input to log on-duty, not-driving time and the same truckers who lie on paper logs will lie on EOBRs. Driver’s who are fatigued are the leading cause of large truck crashes. This electronic monitoring will hopefully cause driver’s to be honest about the hours they work and reduce crashes.

Technology will continue to improve and these debates about cost versus benefit will go on. The new electronic recording devices also will be a source of information in accident investigations and legal actions, providing an important source of evidence of what led up to the accident.

If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in a truck accident then the experienced South Florida personal injury attorneys at Greenberg Stone and Urbano are ready to help you. For more than thirty years, our Miami truck accident lawyers have successfully litigated cases against truck drivers and tricking companies. Stewart Greenberg, our founding partner is a member of APITLA ( Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America) and serves on its Florida advisory board.

All our lawyers have specialized training in truck accident crashes, how to investigate and litigate them. Please call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or contact us through our website to schedule a free consultation where we can discuss your case and present your legal options.

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