Truck driving is an arduous job, involving long hours across long distances, in varying weather and types of terrain. One of the biggest issues faced by truck drivers is fatigue. Even when taking mandated driving breaks, the monotony of driving and the consecutive hours take their toll.
In an article in The New York Times, Julie Weed interviewed industry professionals who vouched for the extent of the problem.
"At National Transportation Services in Kent, Wash., Juan Ochoa, an 18-year industry veteran, manages a fleet of about 80 long-haul trucks. He believes most accidents are caused by fatigue. "I'd estimate 70 percent," he said."
Despite this, Weed also found that others in the industry believe fatigue-related collisions to be massively underreported, meaning that the statistics may not always reflect the true extent of the problem.
In light of this, the emergence of technology that tells drivers when they are too tired to drive could have a huge impact on the industry and on road safety in general. Those interviewed by Weed suggested that the trucking industry has been slower to embrace new technology, but that with safety technology becoming more accessible, that could change.
"Biometric sensors are getting lighter, cheaper and more accurate, and new software systems can connect driver and vehicle data. The feedback loops these systems create could make the roads safer for everyone."
Biometric technology takes its readings directly from the body, sensing and monitoring physical signs of fatigue and alerting drivers to danger. There are several different devices on the market, with wearable devices spanning from headbands to eyeglasses to wristbands.
Hopefully, with better market integration and increased affordability, technology can play a bigger part of the solution to the trucking industry's big dilemma. Time will tell if such technology can make a lasting impact.
For more on wearable fatigue-fighting technology, and the specifics of how it works, check out the original article by Julie Weed in the New York Times.