Another Camera Angle to Reduce Tractor-Trailer Crashes

On Greater Atlanta’s congested highways, accidents involving big trucks are a common occurrence.

Because of the time it takes for tractor-trailers to stop, many are involved in rear-end collisions. Trucks also have large blind spots surrounding the tractor and trailer that put smaller vehicles riding along side and behind them at risk. A truck driver cannot see vehicles in the blind spots, and motorists following a large truck are blocked from seeing traffic ahead.

Impatient motorists often try to pass big trucks and cutting back in front of them, forcing the truck driver to take evasive action to avoid a collision because trucks cannot slow down as quickly as smaller cars and trucks.

In an effort to reduce the number of accidents involving big trucks, the electronics manufacturer Samsung has come up with a safety truck designed to give motorists a better view of what is on the other side of a tractor-trailer, according to a CBS news report.

Frequently, motorists get stuck behind slow-moving big trucks on two-lane highways and cannot see whether traffic is coming from the other direction. This creates hazardous situations in which motorists run the risk of a head-on collision trying to pass the slower vehicle.

Is Streaming Video on a Truck Trailer a Safety Innovation or Another Distraction?

Samsung’s innovative idea is to mount a wireless camera on the truck’s grill capable of streaming live video to four screens on the trailer’s back, enabling trailing motorists to see what the trucker sees. If the motorists are trying to pass, they can wait for a clear moment and then accelerate past the truck.

The company tested its safety truck concept in Argentina, where two-lane highways are common and accident rates involving trucks are high, according to the report. Samsung believes the concept can save people’s lives.

The question is whether these types of cameras and big screens on tractor-trailers would create distractions or improve safety. Considering that backup cameras are used to give motorists in passenger cars a view of what is behind them when they go in reverse, this type of technology is not far-fetched.

Clearly, before the safety truck concept could find its way onto North American roads, it would need further testing and review by the federal traffic safety administrators.

If safety cameras could help reduce the number of crashes involving big trucks on roadways in Atlanta, they’re worth investigating.

Prevalence of Truck Accidents in Georgia

Atlanta’s highways and interstates back up for miles on days when big trucks are involved in accidents.

  • In Georgia, crashes involving large trucks killed 163 people in 2013, NHTSA reported. Most of the people killed were in vehicles other than the tractor-trailer.
  • 71 percent of those fatality victims were occupants of other vehicles.
  • In 2013, crashes involving big trucks killed 3,964 people, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • Roughly 95,000 people suffered injuries in tractor-trailer crashes in 2013.
  • Truckers had the highest percentage of crashes in 2013, 15 percent, compared to passenger car drivers, 12.8 percent, and drivers of light trucks, 12.4 percent.
  • In contrast, only 26 occupants of big trucks were killed in crashes in 2013.

Types of Big Truck Crashes

Most motorists have also seen people cut off big trucks in heavy traffic, forcing the trucks to lock up their brakes. This failure to share the road is a serious problem.

Truckers also commit certain common driving errors, including speeding, following too close, driving too fast for road condition, and driving when fatigued or drowsy.

Roadside inspections of big trucks commonly find problems with logbooks out of date, suggesting the driver may have exceeded the legal limit of hours behind the wheel and being driving while dangerously fatigued.

Inspectors also find vehicle violations such as failure to have operable lamps, including headlights, which is the most common violation for truckers, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Other violations involve brakes being out of adjustment, tires having too little tread, trucks not having proper repairs or maintenance, oil and grease leaks and brake hose kinking. All of these could lead to crashes and deaths or injuries.

A U.S. Department of Transportation study found these common causes of crashes involving big trucks, according to

  • Loss of control by truck driver after tire blowout or some other situation.
  • Vehicle failure such as engine problem.
  • Other motor vehicles moving into the truck’s lane.
  • Bad road conditions because of poor maintenance or weather.
  • Rate of speed too fast for road conditions.
  • Cargo shifts.
  • Drifting in and out of lanes either by truck or passenger vehicle.
  • Moving off road’s edge.
  • Improper maneuvers in turning, passing or moving through intersections.
  • Driving up on a vehicle stopped in the roadway.
  • Hitting objects on the roadway.
  • Driver fatigue.

When big trucks crash, because of their size, most of the time other vehicles are involved.

  • 80 percent of deadly crashes involving tractor-trailers in 2013 were multiple-vehicle wrecks.
  • In nearly half of the two-vehicle crashes involving fatalities, both the truck and the other vehicle involved were going straight ahead when the crash occurred.
  • In 10 percent of the crashes, vehicles other than the truck were turning left or right.
  • In 10 percent, the vehicles involved were going around curves.
  • In 7 percent of deadly wrecks, the truck or other vehicle was stopped or sitting in traffic lanes.
  • 2 percent of truckers in fatal wrecks in 2013 registered blood-alcohol content of .08 percent or higher.

If you have been injured in an accident involving a large truck in the Atlanta area, talk to a Georgia truck accident lawyer at The Millar Law Firm.