Falling asleep at the wheel is one of the most terrifying things a trucker can experience. When operators push the limits of truck regulations and underpay drivers, it can lead to them being exhausted while behind the wheel. Between 2004 and 2013, driver fatigue caused as many as 8,952 death and injured up to 220,000 people. Sleep deprivation and the consequences associated with it are placing the lives of all truckers and anyone near them on the roads at risk.
Now, new technology might help truckers be more aware of when they are getting too tired to safely continue their journey. While the regulators require most truckers to log their hours electronically, this method of oversight doesn’t prevent all accidents. Since the trucking industry employs more than 3.5 million people, tech companies are seeing safety products for their potential to help fill in the gaps that federal and state regulations currently don’t.
Are Biometric Sensors the Future of Truck Safety?
As biometric sensors become smaller and more affordable, some companies like SmartCap make products that actively monitor a driver’s level of fatigue. According to industry experts, fatigue is underreported because it’s not always easy to determine when a person is succumbing to it. Biometric sensors could tie a trucker’s fatigue level to their electronic logs and help officials understand the relationship between fatigue and serious trucking accidents.
In a comment to the New York Times Juan Ochoa, a manager of about 80 trucks, is certain that fatigue plays a more significant role in accidents than numbers currently reveal. “I’d estimate 70 percent,” Ochoa said. The technology could make estimations a certainty, and help drivers and operators make the improvements needed to save lives.
Types of Wearable Technology for Truckers
Companies are not hesitating to provide options for wearable technology that can keep truckers safe. Optalert makes glasses that monitor a driver’s blinking to predict sleepiness. Maven Machines produces a headset that can determine when a driver is looking through their windshield, what direction they look, and whether they’ve checked their mirrors. SmartCap, the product mentioned above, is a headband that measures a driver’s electronic brain waves to determine how alert they are.
While this technology might seem initially intrusive, the companies that make them hope that they help save lives. While some drivers have cameras monitoring their actions in the cab, footage from these devices aren’t useful until something disastrous has already happened. While some of these camera systems try to predict a driver’s fatigue level, they aren’t always accurate or reliable with these measurements. The data collected by smart wearables is designed to help drivers stop driving once they’re too fatigued to safely stay on the road.