Trucking accidents around Maryland and throughout the nation in general take the lives of many thousands of innocent people every year. While most truckers are conscientious individuals, there are a few bad actors behind the wheels of these large, 18-wheeler commercial vehicles; essentially 25-ton missiles plying our roadways. Sadly, even the most diligent truck driver can be fooled into thinking that road conditions are not as bad as they really are.
Especially in winter time, whether driving on the roads around Annapolis, Rockville, the District, or Howie, MD, bad weather conditions can coat the road surface with slick snow, black ice, or slippery sleet. Any of these situations, as well as a dozen more, can lead to a serious traffic accident involving not just one vehicle, but sometimes two, tree or more.
As Baltimore auto accident attorneys and Maryland personal injury lawyers, we know how much property damage and bodily injury can be wrought by a jack-knifed semi tractor-trailer. Even the best drivers can be caught unaware when a winter storm blows in and makes our highways and surface streets virtual ice skating rinks. In fact, as has already happened this season, winter weather forecasts have been the precursor to numerous traffic problems, including closed roads, multi-vehicle collisions and occasional fatal commercial trucking-related wrecks.
According to news articles, there has been a discussion of fitting U.S. Postal Service (USPS) delivery vehicles with weather collection and transmission equipment to aid in the forecasting and reporting of real-time road conditions in certain geographical areas. Aside from this kind of preventative measure, it’s important to understand that some commercial truck drivers simply don’t make allowances for bad weather conditions.
Because commercial trucking is a business, time and money can conspire to cause safety issues for truckers and the driving public alike. According to news reports, the American Transportation Research Institute, or ATRI, has said that it will be looking into its collection of truck safety data as a way of helping truckers remain safe during what the institute describes as “critical weather” events. Teaming up with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the ATRI will be analyzing freight performance numbers in an effort to identify instances in which weather-related events have negatively impacted trucking operations.
According to news reports, the ATRI announced in a recent newsletter that it will capture real-time weather data from data bases maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Using so-called “moving weather event data,” the ATRI believes that a system could be employed that would provide weather information delivered directly to the cab of a big rig, which would be able to inform a trucker of weather-related events without “creating unnecessary distractions.”
The ATRI said that it could do this using geo-fenced “weather buffer zones,” where commercial truckers could receive real-time weather notifications with sufficient advanced warning that they could actually the appropriate action before hitting the worst of the expected weather. By working with an as-yet unnamed major telecommunications company, plus a number of motor carriers, various state DOTs, and NOAA, the ATRI expects to create a pilot system in the near future.
It could be that the next weather-related traffic safety innovation could actually come from an industry often lamented for its dangers to the driving public. Time will tell, but the idea seems promising, especially if lives can be saved on our highways.
Trucks and weather: Making a connection, Fleetowner.com, November 22, 2011