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Testing underway for remotely controlled commercial trucks

Many people living in Georgia work as commercial truck drivers, but technological advances could change the nature of their jobs in the future. A new tech startup has been testing its autonomous system with drivers in the cab, but the company plans to ultimately remove in-cab operators and only use remotely based drivers.

The new technology that has been developed can retrofit an existing tractor-trailer with steering, braking, transmission and throttle controls that the trucker can operate remotely from an office. The data collected by a truck's sensors and cameras provide an operator with a live-action view of the surroundings. When running in autonomous mode, the truck is self-driving, but a trucker in the cab or at a remote location can override the system.

Truck inspectors on the look out for loose cargo

Truckers in Georgia can expect a thorough evaluation of their adherence to cargo securement practices when the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance launches its annual inspection spree in June. During the event, inspectors will apply the North American Standard Level I check of commercial vehicles. This is a rigorous inspection that scrutinizes drivers and trucking equipment.

Inspectors plan to emphasize the obligation on drivers and trucking companies to safely secure loads. The alliance has prepared a check list for transport companies to make them aware of what elements will undergo inspection. Truckers will need to have all cargo and equipment properly secured. Tie-down equipment and straps will be checked for wear and tear.

Self-driving cars and the shift in liability

There may be many changes ahead for Georgia motorists when self-driving cars become common, including a shift in what causes accidents and how that liability will be handled by insurers. There should be a reduction in problems such as drunk driving and speeding, but software malfunctions could result in accidents. Experts predict that the liability in accidents will shift from drivers to software developers, manufacturers and subcontractors. Cars might be vulnerable to hackers.

There will be a significant shift in how accidents are investigated. While current investigations after a car accident may focus on things such as who had the right of way, when self-driving cars become common, that will shift to examining what went wrong in collision avoidance systems or similar safety technology.

Traffic fatalities increase in 2016

Georgia drivers may want to exercise a little more caution since a new study showed fatalities from car accidents in 2016 were the highest since 2007. The number of deaths is a 6 percent increase from 2015 and a 14 percent increase over 2014.

The National Safety Council says the number of people who died in car accidents in 2016 hit 40,200. The council indicated that people driving more as a result of cheaper gas and a better economy were a factor in the increase. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also reported an increase of 8 percent in traffic deaths in 2016. The two organizations count traffic deaths differently, which accounts for the discrepancy. The council counts deaths incurred in the year following the traffic accident, while the highway administration only counts deaths occurring at the time of the accident.

AAA study reveals the habits of millennial drivers

A study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggests that millennial drivers in Georgia and around the country often act recklessly while behind the wheel. In the late summer of 2016, researchers polled 2,511 drivers of all ages about their driving habits and views, and they discovered that millennials frequently exceed posted speed limits, read or send email or text messages while driving and ignore red lights.

The AAA study indicates that millennial drivers are almost twice as likely to text while driving, and more than half of them admitted to recently running a red light. While only 5 percent of the drivers surveyed said that speeding in a school zone was acceptable, this figure doubled when millennials were asked the same question. Overall, 88 percent of the drivers between the ages of 19 and 24 admitted to engaging in dangerous behavior while behind the wheel during the previous 30 days.

Commercial truck drivers and their health

Commercial truck drivers in Georgia should be aware of the results of a study conducted by the University of Utah School of Medicine. According to the study, it can be difficult for them to remain healthy due the extended periods of time they have to sit and their poor eating and sleeping habits. Also, commercial truck drivers with three or more health conditions have four times the chances of getting into a crash.

The medical records of approximately 50,000 commercial truck drivers were examined by the researchers. Out of those drivers, 34 percent showed signs of having multiple health issues that could negatively affect their driving performances. The health issues include diabetes, heart disease and lower back pain. The researchers also examined the crash histories of the drivers. They discovered that drivers who had at least three of the health issues had a greater chance of having been involved in a crash.

New truck driver training rule delayed by Trump

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has officially delayed the start date of a new rule that sets national training standards for truck drivers in Georgia and across the U.S. The move comes in response to a Jan. 20 memorandum by President Trump ordering federal agencies to temporarily freeze all pending rules for 60 days.

The Minimum Training Requirements for Entry-Level Commercial Vehicle Operators rule was published in the Federal Register on Dec. 8 and was scheduled to take effect on Feb. 6. It is now scheduled to be implemented on March 21, though it could be delayed again, pending review by the Trump administration. The rule sets a core classroom curriculum for individuals seeking a commercial driver's license. Students must also complete behind-the-wheel training, but the rule does not require a minimum amount of hours. A previous draft of the rule required 30 hours of training behind the wheel, but that provision was scrapped. The rule will also create a national list of certified CDL trainers, and all CDL trainees must be instructed from a trainer on the list.

What to do after a truck accident?

Taking the right action after a truck accident can make a tremendous difference for the victims involved. Few people, outside of truck drivers, have any experience with truck wrecks when they experience their own. That lack of experience can lead to costly mistakes. Here are a few tips on what to do if you are involved in a crash with a semi-truck. 

Call the police

Whether you have been involved in a truck accident, or witnessed it, the first thing to do is call 911 to get help for any injured victims. Collisions involving semi-trucks can lead to serious injuries, even at low speeds. The top priority is to safeguard the health of all parties involved. 

Audi recalls multiple vehicles for dangerous defects

Georgia owners of some Audi vehicles can expect to receive recall notices concerning A5 and Q5 models manufactured between 2013 and 2017. Defects have been identified within the 2.0-liter TFSI engines of the A5 coupe, A5 cabriolet and Q5 SUV. Specifically, the cooling pump could overheat and burst into flame if debris clogs the system.

Another problem with Q5 SUVs built between 2011 and 2017 could result in shrapnel exploding into the passenger cabin during an airbag deployment. Drainage problems around the vehicles' sunroofs sometimes allow water to seep into the structure of the vehicle and soak into the foam around the inflation canister for the side head airbag. Once the water corrodes the canister, it could break apart when the airbag is activated. Both recalls will apply to well over 500,000 vehicles nationwide.

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