The Vartazarian Law Firm

Transportation researchers studying autonomous trucks, HOS regs

What impact will self-driving big rigs have on highway safety? Can we predict that based on how other technology has affected safety for over-the-road drivers? Will more regulations help, or do cumulative regulations simply become a confusing burden?

These are some of the questions the American Transportation Research Institute think need answering in the upcoming years. The research arm of the American Trucking Associations Federation, which represents over 35,000 motor carriers, the ATRI has been performing crucial transportation and operational research on a nonprofit basis since 1954.

The organization's research advisory committee met last month to go over its priorities for research that should be initiated in the upcoming year.

Autonomous trucks: With self-driving trucks well into the manufacturing pipeline, the ATRI plans a detailed analysis of what changes these technologies will create in the operational environment.

Driver distraction: Considering the safety effect of in-truck distractions as well as how distracted drivers in passenger vehicles affect the rate and severity of trucking accidents.

E-commerce: A top industry issue, e-commerce may not directly affect safety but it will impact driver incentives. The ATRI plans to map out the potential impacts.

Bottlenecks: The ATRI keeps a list of the most time-sinking bottlenecks around the country and suggests economic and infrastructure changes to help. Four LA-area intersections were listed in the top 50 bottlenecks nationwide:

♦ State Road 60 at State Road 57 in Los Angeles
♦ I-710 at I-105 in Los Angeles
♦ I-10 at I-15 in San Bernardino
♦ I-15 at State Road 91 in Corona

Hours of Service rules: The organization is seeking flexibility in the federal rules on how long drivers can spend on the road -- and believes it could positively impact congestion and bottlenecks.

Trucking regulations: It's currently difficult to determine the effect of cumulative trucking regulations because there is no standard methodology for regulatory impact analyses in the industry. The ATRI plans to develop a standardized RIA methodology so that regulatory agencies can more easily predict the economic cost of regulations and better weigh them against other regulatory goals.

There's a lot going on in the industry to make commercial carriers more profitable and commercial drivers safer on the road, but we still see trucking accidents far too routinely. If you or someone you love has been injured in a crash with a truck, please don't hesitate to contact a lawyer.

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