A recent article by Seth Clevenger published in Transport Topics explores ways executives can improve fleet safety. Several fleet executives spoke at the 2016 ALK Transportation Technology Summit about how their investments in technology have significantly increased safety and reduced claims costs at their companies. The installation of onboard video cameras, collision mitigation systems, departure warning systems, speed limiters and collision avoidance systems were all cited as way to improve fleet safety and decrease litigation costs. For example, Jeff Mercadante, Vice President of Pitt Ohio, spoke about an accident where Pitt Ohio’s camera systems provided evidence their driver was not at fault in an accident. It was also reported from various professionals that there has been a reduction in the severity of rear-end accidents and the frequency of accidents overall as cameras and other emerging technologies are put in place.
As a lawyer with limited driving experience, I’m hesitant to ever recommend what a transportation company should or shouldn’t do when it comes to investing hard earned money in emerging technologies. I can say, however, that after an accident, my clients always want to know what happened, and if their driver is at fault. On-board cameras and other technology allows me, as well as reconstruction experts, to prepare a quick and accurate evaluation of an accident, which then allows my clients to make an educated decision if the accident is worth the time and expense of litigation. In addition, I have also heard from multiple safety professionals that the use of on-board cameras as a training tool is invaluable.
Technology available to transportation companies is only going to increase in sophistication and capability over the next ten years. This is especially true as we approach a time when a truck (or trucks) will be able to operate without a driver’s input. Progressive companies that invest in the technologies that best benefit their fleets will be best positioned to succeed.