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The future of intellligent transportation systems

While I make my living and support my family as a trial lawyer representing people badly in hurt in truck and bus crashes — and the surviivors of those who do not survive — the ultimate objective is to improve safety and reduce the incidence of future injuries and deaths.

While much of safety management in trucking is just common sense and effective management, technology can also provide tools to improve safety. Last month in New York, the 15th World Congress on Intelligent Transportation Systems exhibited several new advances in trucking safety technology. Of course, it will help improve safety only if it is purchased and used.

* Integrated corridor management would use “congestion pricing” to address regional traffic problems. Congestion pricing is the practice of charging more to use a roadway, bridge or tunnel during periods of the heaviest use in order to ease traffic.

* Integrated Vehicle-Based Safety Systems (IVBSS) combines lane departure warning, forward collision warning and blind-spot monitoring into a single system, eliminating distracting and competing warning signals for drivers. Volvo demonstrated a version of VBSS that uses active steering control to keep the vehicle in its lane and to help avoid blind-side collisions in lane changes, as well as providing object detection alerts and rollover warning. The Nissan version of VBSS includes active braking tied to forward and rearward object detection as well as a variety of warning systems based on two-way “cooperative” communications between the vehicle, roadside signals and other nearby vehicles.

* “Trusted Truck” technology would allow heavy vehicles to bypass roadside inspections by use of truck sensors and real-time two-way wireless communications to provide roadside officers with vehicle safety information as the truck approaches the inspection site. An onboard screen then instructs the driver to either bypass the inspection if there are no problems or to pull over. The Volvo system also automatically alerts fleet management if the truck is stopped, providing data on the detected vehicle problems.

* Advanced electronic freight management systems.

* Initiatives to increase truck-parking access.

Ken Shigley is a seasoned Georgia trucking trial lawyer who has served as chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute, is on the National Advisory Board for the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America, and is a frequent national seminar speaker for the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. He has recently spoken on trucking litigation topics at continuing legal education programs both at home in Georgia and in Nashville, New Orleans, St. Louis and Chicago, and is scheduled to do so in San Diego in 2009. A Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, he was a faculty member for ten years at the Emory University Law School Trial Techniques Program. Currently he is Secretary of the 40,000 member State Bar of Georgia.