Life is hard behind the wheel of a Class 8 heavy-duty truck, which when fully loaded can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and dominate 80 feet of road space. Pair the challenge of manoeuvring such a large vehicle with long working hours, and it can prove a recipe for disaster.
The potential for distraction and fatigue behind the wheel is high, and truck makers, technology suppliers and federal regulators are acutely aware of the consequences. Figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that in 2018, the number of fatal crashes in the US involving a heavy-duty truck rose for the fourth consecutive year to 4,678. Preliminary data from NHTSA released in May 2020 suggested that despite an overall decline in all road fatalities during 2019, fatal collisions involving heavy trucks had risen by 1%.
The truck industry cannot allow such figures to remain the norm. But should the emphasis be on technology, driver education or regulation when it comes to meeting the goals of Vision Zero?
How safe are trucks today, and can tech help?