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New technologies meant to enhance safety for truckers, motorists

There is a battle brewing in the trucking industry between safety advocates and those looking to enhance the field’s profitability, and it is Alabama and the nation’s truck drivers and motorists who may suffer most as a result. Per BOSS magazine, 2014 was a harrowing year for commercial truckers, as it saw the number of truck-driver fatalities in America rise for the fifth consecutive time, with 761 truckers losing their lives on the job that year alone.

To address the growing number of driver deaths and injuries, and also, associated rising insurance costs, new truck safety features are becoming increasingly mainstream. In-cab cameras are becoming more and more common, and auto-braking technology is also gaining steam among American trucking companies. Some truck drivers and others with ties to the industry feel that driver-facing cameras, which are also growing in popularity, are too invasive. This allegation caused one national retailer to try technology that would only turn the camera on after a sharp turn, hard brake or similar action.

Other innovations that may make their way into the commercial-trucking mainstream include an app that would allow truck drivers to get gas without actually having to exit their trucks. The app, designed by one of the nation’s leading auto retailers, would also record important information about drivers’ actions that could be used to back up or refute insurance claims. 

While such technologies are intended to reduce accidents and associated injuries and deaths, some lobbyists for major trucking companies are working to see that many of the proposed new safety regulations and innovations do not see the light of day. A recent example involves a proposed mandate known as the “restart rule,” which would have required truckers to take mandatory, 34-hour breaks after meeting certain work criteria. The rule was vehemently opposed by some of the nation’s largest trucking organizations, and it is not currently in effect as a result. 

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