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Fighting truck driver fatigue with technology

Truck driver fatigue can pose a serious threat to roadway safety in Oklahoma. Because commercial trucks are so massive, a truck crash can be particularly devastating to the lives and well-being of passengers and drivers in other vehicles. Truck drivers are at risk of fatigue for many reasons; they often drive along monotonous highways for many hours at a time, often at night. Drivers who switch their shifts may be particularly vulnerable to fatigue, and when a truck driver dozes off behind the wheel, the result can be a catastrophic truck accident.

Various companies are working to reduce the risk of trucking accidents by developing technologies that can pinpoint risks of trucker fatigue before a crash. One project, initiated by Trimble Transportation and Pulsar Informatics, combines different types of data analysis to produce a red, yellow or green signal that indicates a particular driver's likelihood of fatigue. Pulsar's experience is in studying sleep patterns and fatigue for people in other professions for whom avoiding exhaustion is critical for safety, like airline pilots and astronauts. Using that information, Pulsar developed an algorithm that takes truck drivers' hours of service into account along with their shifts and other factors.

Of course, each driver reacts differently to certain conditions, and Trimble's technology shines a light on actual driving practices. Sensors take note of dangerous driving behaviors associated with exhaustion, like veering out of a lane or stopping and starting suddenly. It compares this information with other drivers, noting cases where drivers seem to show greater signs of fatigue.

While these projects aim to reduce the risk of truck driver exhaustion, truck crashes continue to be catastrophic, leading to severe injuries and lifelong disabilities. A personal injury lawyer might work with accident victims to seek compensation for damages caused by someone else's negligence, including medical bills and lost wages.

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