The trucking industry is a driving force in maintaining both our economy and our lifestyle. Commercial trucks carry goods to and from distributors on interstates, highways and local roads to destinations throughout the country, and the majority of these goods eventually find their way into the homes of consumers. Without the trucking industry, many people would not have access to produce and grocery items, nor would they have the variety of personal and household products modern families rely on and enjoy.
While there is no disputing the fact that commercial carriers perform a valuable service to us all, it can still be disconcerting to share the road with them. Injuries caused by trucking accidents tend to be severe and life-threatening.
For passenger car drivers, traveling near a truck on a busy interstate or highway is not only a nerve-wracking experience, but also carries very real dangers. The large size of most commercial carriers impedes the vision of drivers behind them, creating a very real danger to themselves and other vehicles on the road. New technology is aimed at reducing this risk, in the hopes of improving visibility and increasing safety, both for truckers as well as the drivers with whom they share the roads.
South Carolina Truck and Truck Accident Statistics
According to the American Trucking Association, over 3 million truckers move an average of 9.2 billion tons of freight annually in the United States. South Carolinians are no strangers to the trucking industry, nor are they immune from having to share the road with truck drivers. As a mid-point between New York and Florida, and with over 200 miles of Interstate 95 traversing the state, South Carolina is hub of trucking activity.
While the South Carolina Trucking Association (SCTA) points out that the amount of trucking accidents in South Carolina has declined over the last 10 years, the facts are still alarming:
- An average of 2,500 commercial trucking accidents occur each year in South Carolina.
- Roughly 2,000 of these accidents result in injuries.
- Between 85 and 100 people die each year in our state as a result of trucking-related accidents.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
One of the dangers tractor-trailers pose for other drivers is the limited visibility and blind spots that can occur around trucks. These “no zones” are areas in which a car “disappears” from the view of the driver, resulting in an increased risk of accidents. As anyone who has even been stuck following a truck knows, that situation goes both ways. For automobile drivers, visibility as to what lies ahead on the road is almost zero.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), combined with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has conducted extensive studies of the causes behind commercial trucking accidents. Any kind of motor vehicle accident is a complex event, and there are any number of factors that can increase the risk of being involved in a crash with another vehicle. In terms of trucking accidents, decreased visibility due to the size of the truck, poor road conditions, and the demands placed on drivers can all influence and increase the risk for accidents.
Other common causes of trucking accidents include:
Driving under the influence is also a contributing factor in a number of trucking accidents. Even using a prescription or over-the-counter drug, such as pain relievers or cold medicines, can have a dangerous effect on truck drivers behind the wheel. When drivers fail or delay in reacting to road conditions and traffic flow it creates an increased danger for drivers following them, who cannot see the danger lying ahead.
Samsung Super Truck – the Answer or Another Distraction?
Anyone who has ever been stuck behind a truck on a two-lane road knows how frustrating it can be. While the temptation to pass a slow moving tractor-trailer truck may be strong, the risks of doing so could endanger your life and the lives of your passengers. While impeded visibility is a common problem and contributing factor in many trucking accidents, one company feels it may have a way to fix that issue.
Samsung, one of the world’s leading technology companies, has developed what it refers to as a “safety truck.” The Samsung safety truck has a camera on the truck’s grill that provides live streaming to four large screens on the back of the truck. The result is that drivers behind the truck would now be able to see in front of the truck driver. Not only would this enable a driver to pass a commercial truck safely on a two-lane highway, but it would also allow drivers a clearer vision of any obstacles that may be ahead on the road.
The safety truck was developed and the prototype was built in Argentina, which has one of the highest truck accident rates in the world. According to a CBS News story, the prototype is no longer operational, but Samsung continues to see the truck as a way to increase safety. As debate continues over whether the truck is the answer to decreasing the number of trucking accidents or simply an additional distraction facing drivers, Samsung continues to pursue additional test, permits, and approvals for the project.