How Machine Learning Can Help Decrease Truck Accidents

How Machine Learning Can Help Decrease Truck AccidentsWith millions of truckers employed in the United States, it is important that their safety – and the safety of others – is seriously considered. With notoriously lengthy trips on tight schedules, truckers sometimes sacrifice their own comfort and need for rest so they can complete their dispatch on time and avoid possible financial penalties for a late arrival. This means more fatigued truckers on the road, leading to more truck accidents.

Recent advances in machine learning aim to cut back on tired drivers, meaning safer roads for everyone, and a safer job environment for truck drivers. While Hours of Service regulations have been in place for some time to cut down on truck accidents, the industry did not see any decrease in collisions. The new technological breakthroughs show promising results, accurately predicting data which correlated with fatigued drivers. Truck accidents often result in catastrophic injuries, if not death, so fewer fatigue-related accidents will change lives, and keep all of us safer.

What is ReadiDispatch and how does it work?

Vancouver-based company Fatigue Science (provider of predictive fatigue analytics) developed ReadiDispatch, a machine learning platform that “combines multiple technologies to make daily accident risk predictions for each driver,” according to BC Tech Association.

Basically, ReadiDispatch takes sleep data (with optional wearables provided) from truck drivers 10 days prior to their dispatch, measuring how much sleep they achieve on a daily basis and the quality of that sleep. Using that information, “the ML model then combines each driver’s ELD [electronic logging device] data, demographics, and one-time intake survey responses, and compares them to the training data which has similar tags. The result is a rolling, personalized 10-day sleep history for each driver, ahead of every shift.”

The sleep history of the drivers is then passed on to SAFTE™, a biomathematical fatigue model. SAFTE™ then takes the data and gives an hour-by-hour 0-to-100 fatigue prediction for each truck driver. This is referred to as their ReadiScore. If a score is too low, the driver can have their route delayed to offer more time for rest, or in extreme circumstances, have a substitute driver take over for the fatigued trucker.

What causes trucker fatigue?

Fatigue is one of the most common causes of truck accidents; Fatigue Science, using data compiled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA), estimates that it is the cause of 13% of all truck accidents. This means that there are around 800 deaths caused every year due to fatigued truck drivers. Per that same FMCSA data, “commercial truck drivers are four times more likely to be involved in a fatigue-related accident than the average driver.”

Factors that lead to extreme fatigue among truck drivers include:

  • Job constraints. Inherent in their job, long hours and tight schedules have truckers skipping rests and driving until they are fatigued.
  • Sleep disorders. Research done in 2014 by the National Institutes of Health (their most recent study available) shows that 28% of commercial truck drivers experience more instances of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Sleep disorders disrupt the sleep cycle, causing a decrease in quality of sleep, leading to increased instances of fatigued drivers on the road.
  • Circadian rhythm disruption. As truckers often drive at night, on rural roads, and in various settings for long hours, this can disrupt their circadian rhythm – the physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle.
  • Over-the-counter medications. Certain over-the-counter medications taken by truck drivers may have side effects such as drowsiness.

As we can see, many of the causes for fatigue are difficult to combat, and seem to be inherently associated with the trucking industry. With advances in machine learning and other technologies, along with changes in federal regulations, we will hopefully see a decrease in truck accidents due to fatigued drivers.

What are Hours of Service regulations?

Hours of Service regulations lay out how long truck operators may drive consecutively and when they are required to take breaks. For two years since starting in 2020, during the height of the pandemic, there was a waiver of these regulations for emergency hours of service to deliver shipments of livestock, medical supplies, vaccines, groceries and diesel fuel. This meant more flexibility for truck companies in scheduling drivers, extending hours where necessary. In their early estimates for traffic fatalities in 2021, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) “projects that an estimated 42,915 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes last year, a 10.5% increase from the 38,824 fatalities in 2020.”

With the end of this waiver, we hope to see a decrease in truck accident fatalities caused by driver fatigue as hours of service return to more manageable regulations.

Am I entitled to compensation after a truck accident in Washington, DC?

If you are involved in an accident with a truck, you will likely suffer severe or catastrophic injuries. These injuries can have long-term effects, and may lead to other life-threatening complications. Often, injuries such as these mean changes to your everyday life. Not only will you be physically affected, but also financially and emotionally. Damages that you can seek in a lawsuit against a truck driver or trucking company include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Permanent disabilities or disfigurement
  • Emotional pain and suffering
  • Vehicle damages
  • Lost wages
  • Lost ability to work
  • Wrongful death

While we understand that truck drivers are under demanding schedules and long hours, they are still in charge of how they drive, and if they sense they are fatigued, they should pull over to avoid causing tragic accidents. Fatigued drivers are still at fault for damages caused in an accident if it was their fatigue that caused the collision. As the trucking company is likely to try to deny fault, you should seek out the counsel of an experienced truck accident attorney.

Please contact Paulson & Nace, PLLC through this contact form or by calling our offices today.