Carter Craig, Attorneys at Law

The role of data and tech in combating distracted driving

Distracted driving is becoming more and more common with the increasing use of smartphones and other mobile devices. Accidents with distracted drivers can be especially severe in terms of both injuries and vehicle damage. Furthermore, they can leave trucking companies throughout Virginia and the rest of America with delays and insurance claims to deal with. However, new technology may prove to be the solution to this trend.

For example, Omnitracs has been using data analysis in the transportation industry since 2004. In 2016, the fleet management systems company added a module to its Driving Center tool that can detect signs of distraction or fatigue in drivers and even predict dangerous situations. Zendrive, a firm specializing in data analysis, has been identifying at-risk drivers for fleet owners and insurers using only smartphone data.

Fleet management systems have long been able to track aggressive driving behavior like speeding, hard braking and hard acceleration. Now, companies like PeopleNet and SmartDrive are offering systems with in-cab video monitoring and driver-coaching tools. Netradyne will be releasing a system that provides audible warnings and notifications to drivers.

Encouraging safe driving isn't enough, however. Trucking companies will want to identify any stressors in their drivers' work lives and reduce them through rescheduling and other changes. Truckers should, for example, avoid nighttime driving as much as possible and take plenty of breaks.

All too often, truckers are encouraged to break federal safety regulations in order to meet deadlines. This is one form of negligence. Whether the driver or the company is responsible, an accident arising from negligence will give the victim grounds for a claim. Under Virginia law, however, victims who are partially to blame cannot collect. A lawyer could evaluate the case and, if it's strong, have experts gather proof against the defendant. The lawyer can then negotiate for a settlement with the trucking company.

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