Advancements in Trucking Technology: How AI Is Changing the Industry

Posted in Verdicts and Settlements on July 19, 2022

Truck accident attorneys like to market their services by telling potential clients about how dangerous trucking is and how things are only getting worse each day. It is true that there are more trucks on the road and the industry is losing experienced drivers; however, emerging technologies are likely to have a significantly positive impact on truck safety. In particular, artificial intelligence will change the way operators drive their trucks, and tests show the use of this technology will greatly reduce truck accidents. In other words, an even better future for truck safety is just over the horizon. 

There are several ways that AI can help truck drivers. One way is by coaching them and providing them with prompts. There is only so much that truck drivers can do behind the wheel, even when they are experienced and well-trained. One of the great challenges they face is responding to conditions as they arise. Trucks are large vehicles that require time to stop. If the driver overcompensates because they responded late to a potential danger, it could make the situation worse. 

These AI technologies rely on cameras, sensors, cloud computing, computer vision, and big data to monitor both the driver and the surrounding conditions on a real-time basis. The technology will send alerts to the driver as well as to the trucking company. AI technology also powers autonomous trucks that do not need human drivers. These could be a boon to the trucking industry by supplementing the shortage of qualified drivers.

AI Gives Drivers Alerts and Records Their Actions

AI technology can give a driver an early alert that there may be a problem in the immediate future, allowing the driver to take early action. With more time, a trucker could safely stop their vehicle or otherwise avoid an accident. They may also get other prompts about potential dangers and driving errors that they are making and need to correct. 

In addition, AI can help coach the driver. Sensors and cameras in the cabin can detect unsafe driver behavior. AI can give the driver a prompt that they are doing something unsafe, such as using their cell phone when driving, speeding, or making unsafe lane changes. Drivers will receive this prompt in real time while behind the wheel in a way that is unobtrusive and will not startle them. The AI system will even notice when a driver is distracted and give them extra time to respond to a prompt on the road. 

Even more important is the fact that a dashcam can record a driver. The information gathered can create a driver safety profile that will be available to the trucking company. The company can take action when operators are repeatedly driving unsafely that can range from coaching to discipline. A trucking company may even get an alert about unsafe behavior on a real-time basis and be able to contact the driver while they’re on the road. This kind of monitoring and accountability can facilitate bringing an end to certain dangerous behaviors and encourage better ones.

Trucking Companies Can Better Assess Drivers 

With AI, trucking companies may be able to rank drivers based on their safe driving and learn about potential issues before an accident is caused. They will be able to analyze their drivers and score them based on many metrics. 

When truck drivers know they are being watched and graded on their performance, they will be far more careful about following the rules. Truckers may continuously ask themselves how they can be safer, knowing that everything they do can be monitored. They may no longer take chances because they will no longer be able to get away with unsafe driving behaviors like they might have in the past. 

Even more importantly, AI can record data that shows how a driver performed during their shift. The trucking company can use that data to coach the driver and ensure they make the necessary changes to be safer in the future. If the driver is doing something unsafe, the trucking company will know and will be able to take action against the driver or bring this behavior to the driver’s attention.

AI Technology Gets Safety Results 

Early studies about AI technology behind the wheel are promising. Fleets that used AI-powered dashcams and AI-based coaching had 22% fewer accidents and 56% fewer unsafe driving incidents compared to fleets that did not. Specifically, those fleets saw: 

  • 69% fewer unsafe driving behaviors
  • 40% fewer FMCSA-reported unsafe driving violations
  • 67% fewer harsh driving events
  • 31% fewer speeding events 

Many truck safety technologies that previously seemed revolutionary have become standard in the transportation industry. The hope is that the trucking industry sees the value of AI technology, and it becomes more widely used over time. Currently, the leading trucking AI technology is made by a company called KeepTruckin, recently rebranded as Motive. As this technology gains critical mass, there could be a significant reduction in truck accidents. 

Trucking companies are paying more for insurance these days, in part because personal injury lawyers are running up the cost of doing business by filing lawsuit after lawsuit. AI technology is one way for the industry to get costs like these under control. While these technologies may require a large investment upfront, trucking companies can save money over time through reduced insurance premiums. Down the road, the cost of this technology may come down as it becomes more widely available; and, insurance companies may even incentivize policyholders to purchase AI technology through premium discounts.

Because AI can reduce the cost of doing business and increase the level of safety throughout the trucking industry, it could ultimately, one day, lead to a lower chance of trucking companies being hit with “nuclear verdicts” by angry jurors.