How to improve Truck safety and avoid Nuclear Verdicts

Nuclear and large-scale verdicts have drastically increased in recent years. But can they be avoided? In the third of our series on safety in US trucking, we look at steps carriers can take to minimize risk and protect their business, their drivers – and all road users.

Posted 20 Nov 2021

In our recent blog titled Nuclear Verdicts in trucking are rising, we discussed the exponential increase and its impact on the US trucking industry. The average verdict size increased from $2.31 million in 2010 to $22.3 million in 2018, and there were over 300 verdicts in excess of $1 million during the last five years. Action is needed.


Can Nuclear verdicts be avoided? 

Nuclear Verdicts aren’t going away. Trucking businesses will continue to fold because of large-scale and nuclear levels of damages awarded. But all is not lost! There are ways to minimize the risks, improve the safety of your trucks and drivers, and to protect your operations.

According to analysis in the recent report by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI)Understanding the Impact of Nuclear Verdicts on the Trucking Industry, how a case is defended in court seems to have an impact on the size of the verdict. Expert witnesses for the defense are mentioned as making the most difference.

But, there is a whole range of factors involved for firms to navigate the complex and expensive legal process. And the key must be to avoid the courtroom altogether.


Prevention is better than cure

Improving safety and avoiding accidents must be the main priority of trucking firms. Our experience helping carriers of all shapes and sizes has shown us this is achievable. But how? We think it’s a combination of factors: how you run your fleet, how you recruit, train and manage your drivers, and truck safety technology.

Driver recruitment and training are important; both initial and ongoing training and supervision. Driver scorecard technology, such as that within the CameraMatics Go Driver app, makes this easy to implement. Many of our customers see their CameraMatics system as an important training tool – we’ve written about this before, see Driver Training With CameraMatics & Vehicle Cameras.

Technology is crucial to the future of trucking – for everyone’s safety. Below we’ll explore some of the options for trucks and truck fleets.


The ‘Dirty Five’  

The ‘Dirty Five’ refers to five things Plaintiffs look to demonstrate in court to prove driver or operator fault and therefore liability. Although we want to avoid the courtroom, they’re a good place to start for prevention measures.

The ‘dirty five’ generally refer to fatigue, distracted driving, driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, lack of equipment maintenance, and inexperienced/improperly trained drivers. It makes perfect sense that mitigating these risks is the best place to start when improving truck fleet and vehicle safety.


The future is safer with technology  

In any crash, a carrier must be able to reliably demonstrate what happened – and where the fault lies. And more importantly, where it doesn’t lie. A high-quality connected camera system is fundamental and should be the bare minimum protecting a truck. An inward-facing camera shows exactly what the driver was doing at any point in time. These systems protect the driver and the carrier and provide powerful, incontrovertible evidence in the event of an accident.

Cameras are a good starting point, but looking at the ‘dirty five’, carriers need to go further in their implementation of truck safety technology. The Trucking Alliance recommends the installation of a whole range of Advanced Safety Technologies to protect trucks, drivers, and other road users.

Trucking and vehicle technology has developed apace over the last few years and the American Trucking Associations’ Kevin J Traver recently highlighted CameraMatics as offering something new to US logistics firms; a connected technology platform for trucking safety that wasn’t previously on offer.

A high quality, connected complete solution will comprise not only cameras and sensors but a full smart system. AI-enabled driver warnings – such as Forward Collision, Driver Fatigue/Distraction, and Distance Control – alert fleet managers to potential issues. Instant access to every vehicle in the fleet gives the Fleet Manager a complete view of, and management of every vehicle. Modular but connected systems can be added to when budget and technology allows.  Complete truck and fleet protection.


History matters 

Plaintiffs will look not only at the context of the crash and the immediate journey leading to it but also at the history of the driver and the operator. So not only is training, record keeping, compliance, and maintenance of vehicles fundamentally important, but truck technology such as CameraMatics which captures incidents and alerts fleet managers to potential issues could make all the difference.

Customers repeatedly report that deploying CameraMatics on trucks highlights driving issues that can be resolved by training. Addressing these can mean potential serious future incidents are avoided. This saves businesses. This saves lives.

So, while Nuclear Verdicts aren’t going away, carriers can protect themselves, their drivers – and all road users. Investing in technology is protection for the future.

At CameraMatics we’re passionate about improving safety for all road users, across the globe.  To discuss boosting the safety of your trucks and drivers, call us on +1 (0)804 420 2833