Platooning: The Latest Development with Large Trucks

Platooning: The Latest Development with Large Trucks

Technology can change our lives quickly these days, sometimes in surprising ways. If you’ll be driving west or southwest of Maryland soon, you might notice one tractor-trailer “tailgating” another closely enough to be alarming in states like Indiana, Tennessee, or Georgia. This new wrinkle in the commercial trucking industry is called “platooning.” Platooning uses wireless communication technology to control the brakes of the rear truck, so that when the front truck stops, the rear one does, too, more or less instantaneously. The time lag is often less than ten milliseconds. For this reason, one truck can follow another at frighteningly-small distances (as little as 30 feet) while traveling at highway speeds. For perspective, the average large SUV is 17 feet long. Are These Trucks Self-Driving? Platooning does not use self-driving trucks. Both vehicles rely on drivers to remain in full control and completely involved in the driving process. Trucks in a platoon, however, can be equipped with new driving technologies such as automatic braking and collision avoidance systems. Because the rear truck can’t see what’s ahead, a video link between a camera on the front truck and a screen in the rear truck shows the driver what’s going on. The[…..]

Why Did That Truck Accident Happen?

Maryland 18-wheeler Accident Lawyer

Every year, around 475,000 large trucks are involved in crashes, with roughly 140,000 injuries and 5,000 deaths being the end result. In fact, truck accidents are not as rare as you might think they are. Nearly one in ten vehicles that were involved in deadly crashes nationwide during 2013 were large trucks. The reasons for these crashes were not substantially different from many passenger vehicle crashes: Driver error, such as “failing to look” before moving their vehicle, speeding, distraction, fatigue, DUI, and inexperience Other human error, such as shifting cargo resulting from overloading or improper loading Equipment failure, such as tire, brake, and transmission malfunctions Road condition failures, such as weather-related situations (icy or slick roads, fog, or high winds), road debris or obstructions, and poor signage. However, sometimes truck accidents occur for reasons that can, at first glance, seem out of the ordinary or not immediately apparent. Terminal Thursdays and Fatal Fridays Did you realize that, for large-truck drivers who work a Monday through Friday schedule, Thursday is the deadliest day? Fridays, perhaps not so surprisingly, are a close second. Here’s why: As we approach the end of the work week, we all tend to pay less attention and[…..]

No Testing of Truckers for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Truck Driver

Two federal agencies—the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)—have withdrawn a rule they put forth in March, 2016, concerning testing for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This action was taken despite the fact that OSA has been demonstrated to cause “unintended sleep episodes and resulting deficits in attention, concentration, situational awareness, and memory, thus reducing the capacity to safely respond to hazards when performing safety-sensitive duties.” The two agencies are on record in calling OSA “a critical safety issue that can affect operations in all modes of travel in the transportation industry.” The agencies proposed testing for moderate to severe OSA among those who held “safety-sensitive positions” on our highways and on the rails. The FMCSA and FRA withdrew the proposed rule on August 8, 2017, even though they had called OSA “an on-going concern.” The current response from the agencies is that OSA can be adequately handled through existing rules and safety programs. Why is OSA Significant When It Comes to Safety? OSA sufferers can awaken dozens of times each night because of breathing problems. Doing so steals their rest, which translates into uncontrollable daytime drowsiness. Treatments shown to remedy the problem include pressurized[…..]

Double-Take: No Driver in the Truck Next to You?

Maryland Truck Accident Lawyer

Self-driving cars may rattle some of us. But can you imagine a self-driving tractor-trailer? How do you feel about being on the road with them? It’s something to get used to now, because self-driving semis are here. In fact, “platoons” of self-driving trucks traveled across country borders in Europe during April, 2016. (When trucks “platoon,” a small grouping of trucks drive in convoy autonomously while connected wirelessly; the truck in the lead determines the route and speed.) The self-driving trucks left factories for Rotterdam, The Netherlands, from locations as far-flung as Sweden and southern Germany. It was the first cross-border experiment using self-driving trucks. While the trucks did have human beings riding along because the vehicles were not completely autonomous, the day of self-driving semis is coming. Major Players in Autonomous Large Trucks Would it surprise you to find out that Silicon Valley has an enormous vested interest in reducing their shipping costs? Think about how often you purchase something online. A number of us shop online regularly. Wouldn’t self-driving trucks potentially cut the costs of doing business? Not only that, certain tech companies can make money off the technologies needed to create self-driving trucks and, eventually, completely autonomous trucks.[…..]

ELDs: Government Overreach or Safety Improvement?

Smiling Truck Driver

Operators of semi-trucks work under regulations that dictate the maximum number of hours they can drive each day and each week, for safety reasons. If you’ve ever driven long distances for days on end, you understand how important it is to be rested before you take the wheel; the regulations regarding maximum hours address that concern. Currently, many of the independent truckers and smaller truck outfits use paper logs to track their driving activity. But starting in December, 2017, most drivers that currently use paper logs to track their hours will be required to switch to electronic logging devices (ELDs). It is estimated that the new rule impacts around 3 million drivers and that the ELDs could cost the trucking industry about $1 billion. However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) claims that the ELDs could eliminate up to $1 billion in paperwork costs. A number of the large carriers have already made the switch, saying they welcome the change, which they believe will cut down on errors that lead to fines. But the independent drivers believe that ELDs will mean harassment for them over their working hours from the operating companies that hire them. For this and other[…..]

New OSHA Rule Expands Injury Reporting Requirements

Construction Hard Hat

Some new census figures have just been released – the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 4,405 people died in 2013 in the U.S. from workplace injuries. Marylanders accounted for 78 of those fatalities. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created in 1970 to protect workers by setting and enforcing standards for safe and healthy working conditions and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance. Their latest rule, announced on September 11, 2014, to take effect on January 1, 2015, requires employers to report thousands of additional severe injuries. Previously, employers were required to notify OSHA of hospitalizations only if three or more employees were admitted to the hospital due to a workplace-related injury or illness. Now, covered employers will be required to report all hospitalizations, plus injuries that result in amputations or the loss of an eye, within 24 hours. Note that “hospitalization” refers to being admitted to a hospital or clinic for at least one overnight stay. The rule doesn’t apply when workers receive emergency room or out-patient care or are in the hospital for observation. Employers must notify OSHA of any workplace fatalities within eight hours, continuing the requirements of the previous rule. OSHA estimates[…..]

Zoning In On Work Zones

Road Construction

This is the 15th year the Federal Highway Association has partnered with other safety organizations to promote safety in highway work zones. National Work Zone Awareness Week (April 7-11, 2014) is focused on improving the safety of both motorists and workers in areas where highway work is underway. And when warm weather finally arrives, road construction workers are out in force, repairing winter damage and resurfacing roads. Each year, nearly 1,000 fatalities and 43,000 serious injuries occur in the U.S. as a result of vehicle accidents in work zones. In 2013, eight people lost their lives in Maryland work zone crashes, including four highway workers. Over the last five years, there were more than 8,350 work zone related crashes in Maryland, injuring more than 4,000 people. Here are some other facts about work zone accidents: Four out of five people killed in work zones are motorists, not highway workers. Most work zone crashes are rear-end collisions, caused when drivers are inattentive to the traffic slowed ahead of them. Even though a lot of major road work is done at night, the majority of work zone crashes occur during daylight hours. In Maryland, most work zone crashes occurred in Anne Arundel,[…..]

One Killed in Three Vehicle Accident on I-95 South

According to CBS Baltimore, a vehicle collided with a tractor trailer on Interstate 95 South in Maryland in the early morning of June 26. Maryland State Police say that the car was going northbound before it crossed the median and hit the southbound tractor trailer. The accident occurred not far from the Intercounty Connector. A report on the same incident by The Baltimore Sun states that three vehicles were involved. The accident was reported by the Department of Transportation (DOT) at 3:38 a.m. State Highway Administration spokesman Charlie Gischlar said that, in the aftermath, early morning commuters were rerouted to Route 32. Traffic suffered major delays until the wreckage was cleared at 7:10 a.m. One person was killed in the crash. No other reports of injuries have been made. Tractor trailer accidents, unlike regular motor vehicle accidents, involve vehicles with significantly greater mass. Even when going at low speeds, tractor trailers hold the potential to inflict a deadly amount of force upon others on the road. The drivers who operate tractor trailers along with the companies that own them hold a great responsibility in keeping others safe. There are many variables they must keep aware of in order to avoid[…..]

You Found What in Your Food?!?!

And What You Can Do About It Legally I received a call from a very good client and friend recently. Her daughter had a very unsettling experience with a Chinese restaurant. It seems her daughter was about to bite into her chicken chow mein when she discovered a staple in the food. Luckily, she noticed it before she ate it. My very good friend wanted to know what she could do about the situation. Not only did she almost ingest a staple, but the restaurant owner was rude and indifferent to her daughter when she informed her about it. To be successful in a case against the Chinese carry out or any food establishment when there are insects, glass, etc. in your food, you have to prove two things. First, you must show that the food proprietor was negligent. Secondly, you must prove that the negligence caused you to be injured. I think my friend’s daughter would likely satisfy the first requirement because a restaurant employee should have spotted the staple. However, since there is no injury, there is no case. I told my friend that she should be grateful there is no case because her daughter could have been[…..]

Truck Hits and Possibly Damages Overpass in Baltimore

The Baltimore Sun reported this week that a recent accident in which a large flatbed truck struck a Baltimore Beltway overpass sent debris and metal in the path of oncoming cars. The flatbed truck, owned by the company Six M Co. Inc. of Whiteford, was carrying an excavator from a nearby construction site. The southbound truck could not fit beneath the bridge, which had a clearance of 16 feet and 4 inches. A Maryland state spokesperson explained that the truck driver did not lower the equipment enough to go underneath the overpass, so the large equipment hit the structure and sent debris (including an overhead sign and chains) onto the roads and into oncoming traffic. Truck driver negligence, such as this, is often the cause of big rig accidents in Maryland. State officials closed two of three lanes on the outer loop of the Baltimore Beltway and the two right-hand lanes of Interstate 95 southbound while the debris was cleared. The state’s Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division is reviewing company records and reconstructing the accident to see if any charges will be filed or penalties assessed. Large trucks are required to have a state permit if they exceed a height of[…..]