Record $1 Billion Judgement Against Trucking Company
In 2018, over 2,800 people were killed, and an estimated 400,000 people were injured in accidents involving a distracted driver, and 20% of those killed weren’t even driving – they were pedestrians. On average, truck crashes with injuries cost $200,000 or more. But in light of those statistics, this number feels low by comparison when we consider a case like the death of Connor Dzion and the billion dollar judgement against the companies involved.
The Costs of Driver Distraction in Commercial Vehicle Operations
Recent data shows that the size of verdict awards against trucking fleets rose 51.7% annually from 2010 to 2018, according to a report from the American Transportation Research Institute, with over 300 cases resulting in a judgment of over $1 million. And with this recent news story of a nearly 1 billion dollar verdict against trucking companies, these numbers will continue to rise as this case sets a new precedent in accountability and liability.
Why Is This $1 Billion Verdict So Important?
With a $1 billion verdict handed down Tuesday by a Florida jury, it appears that a new record for nuclear judgments against a trucking firm has been set. However, more than 90% of the award was levied against a trucking company that had apparently ceased to exist and had not taken part in the case for at least two years.
A billion dollar payout was handed down in a case involving a September 2017 accident that claimed the life of Connor Dzion, a freshman at the University of North Florida, just as he began his first year. On I-95 in Yulee, Florida, the collision occurred. Nassau County is to the north of Jacksonville and is home to the city of Yulee. Connor Dzion was a passenger in the back seat of the family’s 2015 Nissan car, which was struck by an Isuzu owned by Roadway Transportation Corp., and driven by Anthony Manuel Rodriguez, according to Florida Highway Patrol reports cited in First Coast News.
The semi-driver for AJD Business Services Inc., who was texting while driving over the legal limit of hours and did not even have a commercial driver’s license, caused a collision that flipped his truck, blocking the highway and creating a lengthy backup on the interstate, according to court documents. Another distracted trucker, working for Kahkashan Carrier, Inc. of Canada, was on cruise control at 70 mph when he slammed into the line of stopped traffic, killing Connor Dzion. The data recorder from that truck showed that he did not attempt to brake until one second before the fatal collision.
What Can We Learn From This Crash?
Obviously, a lot of things went wrong here. From the unlicensed driver to the violation of the HOS regulations to the clearly distracted drivers, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.
When it comes to statistics, we know that 71% of large truck crashes are caused by distracted drivers.
This case underlines this problem in grave detail. And this brings up an important question: what can we as fleet managers do to reduce the likelihood of these types of tragedies?
Preventing Accidents with Dash Cams and Driver Training
Overall, dash cams have been shown to improve driver safety, reduce traffic violations and accidents, while increasing compliance:
- Reduces fleet risk (liability) by enabling AI to identify who is at fault
- Increases ROI for fleets on their video surveillance through the use of facial recognition
- Reduces accident occurrences and traffic violations with collision detection features
In fact, data shows that dash cams help fleet drivers to reduce their collision rate by up to 50%. Driver coaching can also make a big impact:
According to a study on the successful implementation of safety monitoring devices from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, “when it comes to risky driving, it is important that drivers transition from other-directed responsibility and accountability to self-directed responsibility.”
Including drivers in the goal-setting process also has the benefit of reducing resistance to safety programs and making them more likely to succeed. The VTTI study concluded that “one of the most beneficial aspects of empowerment is that it counteracts the tendency of employees to resist new programs.”
“Furthermore, empowered drivers will help to ease tensions and concerns from other drivers that are more reluctant to the change. Finally, empowerment should help to develop more accountability in the program,” the study found.
AI-Powered Dashcams at GPS Trackit: VidFleet
At GPS Trackit, we’ve worked hard to develop a robust dashcam solution including forward-facing to multi-camera, and from 360-degree dash cam views: VidFleet gives you the power to reduce risk and liability while increasing profitability. VidFleet uses AI and in-cabin voice coaching to increase driver safety, improve their behavior and performance, and link fleet managers to their teams in the field. With VidFleet smart video, in-the-moment voice alerts help to coach drivers for better safety and improved performance.
You will reduce accidents and insurance costs by improving driver safety with our advanced AI dash cam. This easy-to-use and install solution allows your fleet management customers to reduce complexity and save time to get real-time information they need to better manage their fleets.
If you’d like to learn more about how GPS Trackit can help to improve safety, increase productivity and reduce costs for your business, speak with one of our knowledgeable Fleet Advisors at 866-320-5810 or get a quick Custom Quote.
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