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ATRI says autonomous trucks, HOS are fertile areas for research

What are the most important areas of research are in the transportation industry? Decisions about research are decisions about policy, so it's important to have a fair understanding of what is being studied.

The nonprofit American Transportation Research Institute is one organization making policy priorities by determining areas where research will be most profitable in terms of the industry and public safety. Since 1954, they have been the research arm of an industry group representing more than 35,000 motor carriers nationwide.

The ATRI's research advisory committee has just released its research priorities that should be initiated in the upcoming year or years:

Self-driving trucks: It's not just Google and Tesla coming up with autonomous vehicles -- autonomous big rigs are well on their way. The ATRI would like to know how the presence of self-driving trucks on the road will impact the safety of other vehicles, including both passenger cars and trucks. They would also like to know if autonomous vehicles lead to ...

Driver distraction: Both in-cab and external distractions can cause catastrophic consequences for truck drivers. Will autonomous vehicle technology be a help or a hindrance?

Hours of Service rules: This is a high-conflict area of federal rulemaking. Hours of Service means number of hours a driver can work without a substantial break, how many days they can drive in a row, and how many and what kind of meal and rest breaks should be required. The government has set a single day's hours at a maximum of 14 -- the industry would like to see more flexibility.

Bottlenecks: The ATRI already keeps a comprehensive list of the worst trucking bottlenecks across the nation and wants to submit recommendations about economic and infrastructure changes that could relieve the pressure.

Trucking regulations: The ATRI would like to develop a standard methodology for determining the impact of regulations on the industry so that agencies can compare apples to apples and get a clearer picture of the costs and benefits of meeting regulatory goals.

E-commerce: Direct sales over the Internet are expected to affect drivers' schedules and incentives. It's important to understand how this revolution in logistics will affect drivers and traffic safety.

It's good to know that people in the trucking industry are interested in making safety recommendations and easing some of the problems that make trucking harder to do safely. At the same time, victims of truck accidents have the right to know exactly what happened in their individual case. If you or someone you love has been injured in a crash with a commercial truck, please don't hesitate to talk to a lawyer.

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