In January 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced its plan to conduct a study of the various factors that are commonly found behind large-truck crashes. Truckers in Kentucky may know that the last time the FMCSA conducted such a study was in the early 2000s.

Much has changed in and outside of the trucking industry since that last study, advances in technology being the most obvious change. The new study will look into calling and texting behind the wheel, among other all too common distractions among truckers, as well as the distraction caused by fleet management systems, in-cab navigation systems and even safety features.

It has been shown, for instance, that many drivers using features like automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control will become inattentive because they overestimate the features’ abilities to keep the vehicle under control. This is just one possible factor behind the increase in large-truck crashes. Between 2009 and 2018, there was a 52.6% jump in fatal large-truck crashes. The FMCSA reported 4,415 such crashes in 2018.

There are also the concerns that come with advances in vehicle automation. Researchers hope that the crash avoidance and mitigation strategies they come up with will apply to trucks of Level 4 and 5 automation: that is, high and full automation.

Inattentive driving, whether it is caused by phone use or by eating and drinking, is a form of negligence, and whenever it’s behind truck collisions, it usually opens the way for personal injury claims. Those who are injured may file a claim against the trucking company, but they might want a lawyer to evaluate the case first under Kentucky’s rule of pure comparative negligence. If the case seems strong enough, then the lawyer may assist with gathering proof of negligence and with negotiating a settlement.