Examining New Trucking Safety Proposals

A new law in Tennessee is addressing truck platooning, but some worry if the authorities have collected enough information to properly determine whether truck platooning increases safety. One way Tennessee authorities aim to address this is through placing a safety device on trucks that operate in platoons.

According to the Tennessee State Highway Patrol, they have lobbied the state legislature to place a light device to alert authorities when trucks are not platooning properly under the new law. It’s no secret that motor carriers have been experimenting with platooning to both increase fuel efficiency and over-the-road safety, yet, the method is still not entirely proven.

The way this works is by linking trucks together using radars and cameras. They follow at a set distance and draft behind one another. Cutting out wind resistance this way can result in cost savings for the motor carriers. Yet other say that this tactic puts profit above truck driver safety.

Those concerned about platooning point to potential obstacles or road hazards that could present themselves unexpectedly and endanger all the vehicles traveling in the platoon. If one of the truck must make a sudden movement because of a road hazard, will the other trucks in the platoon have enough time to respond.

Another concern lies in the fact that some worry platooning could lead to truck drivers driving in a more complacent manner. If they are steadily traveling behind other trucks at a specific rate of speed, it could become easier to succumb to fatigue or not pay attention as much as they otherwise would.

While the matter is still open for debate, states and regulators are moving ahead with their own efforts to manage platooning. How this will all shake out is anyone’s guess.

Australia Wants to Shock Their Truck Drivers

Meanwhile, in the Southern Hemisphere, the New South Wales Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight has proposed that truck drivers who suffer from fatigue be given electric shocks. They believe that giving truck drivers who are falling asleep on the road a good jolt could significantly improve roadway safety.

Naturally, this has not made truck drivers very happy. Even though regulators state that the technology is extremely advanced and only shocks them when necessary, truckers wonder how much truth there is to that when they will get a jolt if they look away from the windshield for more than two seconds. This could mean they get a shock even when they are not fatigued. By simply glancing somewhere else in the truck, they could find themselves receiving an unwanted jolt.

Meanwhile, the union that represents truck drivers in Australia has come out strongly against the measure, stating that most truck-related accidents are not a result of fatigue, but are instead occurring due to unfair or unsafe working conditions. They also suggest that shocking truck drivers who aren’t fatigued could increase the chances of an accident if the truck driver ends up making a jerking movement while traveling at a high rate of speed.

Medical conditions could also be exacerbated by electric shocks. Still, the New South Wales Minister appears to be attempting to move ahead with the measure. She is positing that the proposal isn’t meant to anger truck drivers, but to begin a debate on available technologies designed to increase roadway safety for truck drivers and those operating on the roads around them.

Still, it is unclear whether the measure will pass, with nearly every trucking industry advocate and motor carrier in Australia lobbying heavily against it. Could we one day see a similar measure in the United States? Truckers hope not.