Commercial Trucking Safety Updates

Commercial truck drivers in Indiana and nationally who have grown accustomed to slow industry changes and a long-followed routine are noting a difference these days.

In fact, lots of things are changing in the trucking realm. Much of the focus is on efforts to reduce the serious and often deadly outcomes that routinely occur in truck-related crashes.

A new system for recording behind-the-wheel time is a case in point. Drivers' log books were dramatically revamped with the official enactment of "electronic logging devices" last month. Truckers can no longer record their driving times manually. Safety regulators think the new system will curb cheating by some drivers. They say that the ELDs will force truckers to take required rest breaks, bringing about less fatigue. That will, in turn, result in more alert behind-the-wheel behavior and thus promote public safety.

Although many truckers dislike the new system (they say it will unnecessarily take them off the road at inappropriate times and adversely impact scheduling), ELDs have broad public support.

The verdict is still out on another hot trucking topic, though, with views among the public and in the trucking industry ranging widely.

Namely, that is self-driving commercial trucks. That once seemed like pure science fiction, but now appears to be a not-too-distant reality. One recent article cites a report concluding that "the trucking industry will consist of 85 percent automation" within a decade.

Will that make things safer? Will it render the problem of driver fatigue obsolete and reduce negligence-linked crashes that take the lives of other drivers and passengers on streets and freeways?

The debate surrounding that continues to be intense and spotlight different views. While it occurs, though, the day that self-driving trucks will be out in force on Indiana and national roads seems to be drawing inevitably closer.