Caterpillar, a company that makes mining equipment, is launching face-tracking and eye-tracking technology that it claims can reduce fatigue-related truck accidents. Could the new product help prevent truck and car accidents in Miami and other cities? The technology is a combination of software, sensors, and alarms which monitor the truck driver and issue an alert when the driver shows signs of potentially falling asleep. Some companies, including Newmont Mining and BHP Billiton have conducted trials with the new technology and initial reports suggest that the system is impressive.
Would the system work better than other systems already in place to prevent car and truck accidents in Miami and other cities? According to the makers of the face-tracking and eye-tracking technology, the new system is different because truck drivers do not need to wear special equipment for the system to work. As well, the technology works even when truck drivers switch shifts.
The system uses cameras and sensors to determine when a driver is looking away from the road, how often the driver blinks, and how long the driver’s eyes remain shut. The aim is to detect micro-sleep – a state in which a fatigued person falls asleep for fractions of a second without being aware of the sleep time. When the system detects a state of micro-sleep it agitates the driver’s seat and sounds an alarm to wake the driver up. The system also sends a report back to the driver’s employers to alert them of the problem. The company that hired the driver can also review data from the truck and the cameras and can get a video feed of the driver’s eyes.
Caterpillar acknowledges that there are still some issues with the technology. Currently, the system cannot differentiate between a driver looking down and closing their eyes. This means that driver who glances down may trigger the alarm. Despite this, Newmont Mining told the BBC that in a trial of the technology the company was able to reduce fatigue-related issues by 90%.
Currently, the main system preventing fatigue-related truck and traffic accidents in Miami and across the country are federal laws which dictate the maximum number of hours truck drivers can work and require specific rest periods. The federal laws also require commercial truck drivers to keep a log of hours driven and rests taken. As safety experts have noted, however, it is easy to circumvent these rules and to falsify logs. The federal laws also do not address fatigue caused by sleep disorders or illness. The new technology, according to some experts, will address signs of fatigue and as a result may be a better way of preventing truck collisions in Miami and other cities.
One of the biggest obstacles to the technology may be cost. According to Caterpillar, equipping just one truck with the technology costs up to $20 000. Currently, many truck carriers do not install other potentially life-saving technology due to costs and this technology is expensive.
Have you been seriously injured in a truck accident in Miami or another Southern Florida community? You can contact the Flaxman Law Group today to arrange for a free, no obligation case review to discuss your situation with a personal injury attorney.