Study suggests video monitors could prevent truck accidents

Maryland's motorists are well aware that truck crashes can cause extensive damage to property and injuries and deaths to motorists. A recent study, however, shows that reducing truck accidents is possible if the trucking industry and government decide that the benefits are worth the costs.

The study, which also included buses, was conducted by a safety institute and used video safety monitors to examine driver behavior. Researchers concluded that monitors could reduce fatal truck accidents caused by drivers by more than 20 percent annually, which translates to more than 800 lives each year. Monitors could also reduce negligence-based crashes by more than 35 percent, preventing 39,000 injuries each year.

Video cameras were placed in 100 vehicles from two companies to record risky driving behavior over a 17-week study period. The results were continuously sent to the companies, whose safety managers examined the data and coached drivers on how to correct their behavior. The truck drivers followed their regular delivery routes. The two companies recorded potential crash decreases of 37 percent and 52 percent, respectively.

One expert who does behavioral analysis in studying truck and bus safety expressed confidence in the research results. For him, focusing on driving behavior is the most effective aspect in driving down the risks of accidents.

In contrast, a spokesman for an independent drivers association downplayed the findings, describing the study's methodology as faulty and its assumptions as inaccurate. Most accidents involving trucks, he contends, start with poor driving on the part of other motorists.

As experts debate the effectiveness of video monitors, it is up to truck drivers and truck companies to educate drivers in how best to avoid accidents. In any accident, whether truck or passenger vehicle, the negligent party can be held responsible by an injured victim through a personal injury lawsuit.

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