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Truck companies can save money – and lives – with more safety technology

Written by Steve Gursten Posted August 15th, 2013

Implementing technologies can boost truck company profits and highway safety, says recent American Association for Justice report

piggy bank saving money

A variety of technologies exist that could make trucks more safe.  For example, our own Truck Roundtable attorneys have written about new dynamic steering technologies, and advanced GPS devices that make the very difficult job of trucking easier and more secure.

However, not all motor carriers have been receptive of these new technologies.  Some have started to resist implementation efforts, unless the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) directs otherwise. And even then, those carriers will often ignore mandatory safety rules and still may not comply.

No matter how huge the benefit, some advocacy groups and truck companies will always say integrating new safety technologies into their fleets is too cost prohibitive.

But not everybody is buying it.

The American Association for Justice (AAJ) published a February 2013 report, “Truck Safety Alert: The Rising Danger from Trucks, and How to Stop it.” The report examined statistical data and demonstrated an overall increase in dangerous trucking practices.

The AAJ scrutinized the claim that implementing enhanced safety technology was cost prohibitive. It gathered data from the FMCSA and crunched the numbers; and the analysis is completely contradictory to the position taken by those trucking companies who want to skimp on safety.

According to the AAJ report, implementing some technologies will actually increase profits for trucking companies while also increasing highway safety.

For example:

Forward Collision Warning Systems: This technology would prevent between 8,597 and 18,013 rear-end truck accidents annually, which would translate into saving between $122,650 in property damage and $1,056,221 for fatal accidents per crash. Forward Collision Warning Systems are designed to reduce the severity of an accident by using camera sensors to detect an imminent crash.

Roll Stability Control (RSC): Similarly, the AAJ maintains that Roll Stability Control  systems would prevent as many as 2,037 crashes in which trucks rollover during a curve. RSC systems function by sensing and automatically intervening potential high rollover risks while driving.

Lane departure warning systems: This technology would prevent more than 8,000 collisions, rollovers, and sideswipes, which also translates into savings in property damage.  Lane departure warning systems are designed to prevent truck crashes by warning the trucker when the vehicle begins to move out of its lane.

In its report, the AAJ states that a combination of forward collision warning, roll stability control systems, and lane departure warning systems would prevent up to 28% of all truck accidents, and spare 835 lives per year. It concludes that implementing these features would save trucking companies $9 for every $1 spent.

This poses the question: Even if some dangerous truck companies don’t care about safety, wouldn’t saving money in the name of safety be worth it?

There are bad trucking who do not care about safety.  These companies will cut corners on safety with no regard for the consequences if it translates into a better bottom-line.  However, if these companies sadly do not care about safety, they should at least care about saving money.  Perhaps these unsafe trucking companies need to review the report.  Then they would realize that safety is in everybody’s interest.

Saving innocent lives and the trucking industry saving money is finally something that both the industry and the lawyers might finally agree on.

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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