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Articles Posted in Transportation

The latest commercial vehicle safety systems could prevent up to 63,000 serious accidents involving semi-tractor trailers each year, according to a recent study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. More than 4,000 road users were killed and a further 116,000 were injured in truck accidents in 2015. However, the study suggests that these figures could be significantly lowered if every tractor-trailer throughout Kentucky and the rest of the U.S. was equipped with lane departure warning systems, video-based safety monitoring equipment, emergency braking technology and air disc brakes.

The biggest safety gains could be achieved by installing video-based safety monitoring equipment on every large commercial vehicle. According to the AAA study, this kind of technology could prevent 293 deaths and 17,733 injuries each year. A further 6,000 truck crashes could be avoided every year if all tractor-trailers were equipped with lane departure warning systems, which the research team say would save 115 lives and prevent 1,342 injuries.

Some of the deadliest truck accidents involve drivers who became distracted or fell asleep at the wheel and were unable to apply brakes or take emergency action. Installing automatic emergency braking systems to all semi-tractor trailers could prevent 5,294 such crashes and save 55 lives each year, according to the study. Air disc brakes are already fitted to most large trucks, but the research indicates that making this technology mandatory would prevent 37 deaths and 1,477 injuries every year.

Kentucky drivers that share the road with commercial truck drivers should be aware that truckers with three or more medical conditions are two to four times more likely to cause an accident. According to a recent study, the risk of a crash occurring increases as a truck driver’s health decreases.

It can be extremely difficult for truck drivers who sit behind the wheel for long hours to keep healthy. They often have to deal with poor sleeping conditions and rely on less nutritious meals in addition to living a sedentary lifestyle while on the road. The medical records of more than 49,000 commercial truckers indicated that about 34 percent of the drivers had signs of at least one serious medical condition, such as low back pain, heart disease and diabetes. These particular conditions have previously been linked to poor driving performance.

The research also showed that commercial truck drivers with at least three of the conditions associated with poor driving performance were more likely to become involved in a car accident. The frequency of accidents involving commercial truckers who had three performance-related medical conditions was 93 accidents per 100 million miles traveled. The study suggests that while one health condition might be manageable, multiple conditions can substantially increase a driver’s risk of causing a truck accident.

Strong demand for air brakes has prompted Bendix to expand its assembly facility in Kentucky. The company promotes its air disc brakes as an important safety element in the trucking industry’s future. This product can shorten the distances needed by large trucks to stop.

The company also made an announcement at a recent industry convention about its Intellipark system. This system detects if a driver leaves a truck cab without activating the parking brakes and then automatically initiates the air brakes to prevent the truck from rolling away. This automation addresses the rollaway safety issue that troubles many fleets. According to a Bendix survey, 60 percent of trucking fleets experienced a rollaway accident within the last two years.

Other product improvements developed by the company include an upcoming software update for the Wingman Fusion system. This software aids drivers with data collected by cameras on trucks. It manages warnings for lane departures and activates brakes to reduce rear-end collisions. Additionally, the company’s new EnduraSure and EnduraSure Pro lines of spring brakes offer longer lifespans, greater corrosion resistance and lower weight.

For many Kentucky drivers, passing large 18-wheel vehicles on the highway is an uncomfortable experience. Part of the reason for this is because these large commercial trucks can tend to drift in and out of their lane especially when other vehicles are attempting to pass them. However, there are certain things other motorists can do to be safe when driving around 18-wheelers.

Passing with extra care is extremely important around large trucks. Drivers of passenger vehicles should give trucks extra room, particularly when moving back into the lane the truck is in. Drivers should be able to see the front of the truck in their rear view mirror before they move back. This way, they can ensure that the truck driver sees them and that there is enough room between the two vehicles if the passenger car needs to stop suddenly.

When a commercial truck is about to move into a lane, a driver’s first instinct might be to try and speed up to get in front of the truck. However, 18-wheel trucks cannot stop as fast as passenger vehicles. Trying to speed up could put the passenger car in the direct path of an oncoming truck, potentially causing an accident. Drivers should wait and either safely pass the truck later on or slow down.

Kentucky residents and others around the country may have noticed that large trucks may use ornamental spikes as lug nut covers. In many cases, these spikes are made from plastic, but they may also be made from metal or aluminum. If a spike comes too far from a wheel, it may increase the risk of an accident. Data indicates that half of bicyclists who are killed in accidents involving large trucks first collide with the side of the big rig.

About a quarter of pedestrians who are killed in an accident with a large truck do the same. As these spikes may intimidate other drivers, some trucking companies have discontinued their use. The state of Hawaii has passed laws regulating the use of such lug nut covers as well. According to the legislation, these spikes and other wheel coverings may not exceed 4 inches.

If a person who is injured in a trucking accident can show that it was caused by the truck driver’s negligence, he or she may be entitled to compensation. Negligence may occur if a truck driver makes contact with another vehicle, bicycle or pedestrian. The driver’s employer may also be liable for damages if it did not provide proper training related to properly maintaining a vehicle’s tires.

Kentucky motorists may enjoy more safety on the road after unannounced inspections took nearly 2,000 commercial trucks off the road. The effort was part of an annual drive by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. An announced event is scheduled to take place on Sept. 7, 2017. The purpose of these inspections is to reduce the risk of truck accidents caused by failure to comply with brake standards.

The one-day event featured 9,524 inspections in 33 states and 10 provinces in Canada. There were 1,146 trucks sidelined for brake issues. Another 843 commercial vehicles were placed out ofservice for unstated violations.

The CVSA stated that, of the trucks that were inspected, 4,635 were required to be outfitted with anti-lock brake systems. Eight percent of these vehicles had ABS violations that warranted removal. ABS systems require maintenance to remain effective.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a rule that contains changes to the commercial driver’s license training requirements. The rule became effective on June 5, 2017, but drivers, companies and training organizations have until February 2020 to be in full compliance with the new law. The training requirements will only apply to new drivers who receive their CDLs on or after Feb. 7, 2020. These changes are seen as a benefit to overall driver safety in Kentucky and throughout the United States.

The rule was delayed five months due to a regulatory review by the Trump administration. It benefits CDL training and improves safety and consistency by creating a core curriculum. It also requires some behind-the-wheel training and mandates that applicants receive training only from people and companies registered and approved by the FMCSA. Companies that have their own trainers and training facilities will also have to be in compliance with this aspect of the rule.

The rule was also altered from its original version, and one change has received criticism from those in the industry. Initially the rule required 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training, but the number has been removed.

Motorists in Kentucky are more likely to see semi-tractor trailers and buses undergoing roadside inspections between June 6 and June 8 as inspectors step up their enforcement efforts during the annual International Roadcheck safety initiative. The effort is organized by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance with the goal of encouraging truck and bus drivers and commercial vehicle operators to observe road safety laws and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations.

The CVSA asks inspectors to pay particular attention to a different aspect of truck safety during International Roadcheck each year. Brake violations were the focus during the safety blitz in 2016, and this year inspectors will be focusing their efforts on cargo safety. Drivers who fail to properly secure their loads can expect a citation, but the CVSA has produced a flyer containing tips about securing cargo properly to help drivers and truck operators avoid having their vehicles ordered out of service.

Inspectors generally carry out North American Standard Level I inspections during International Roadcheck. These inspections are extremely thorough, and 21.5 percent of the more than 42,000 trucks and buses pulled over during the 2016 safety event were ordered out of service because of safety violations. Brake violations were the most common reason for ordering trucks off the road. The CVSA says that an average of about 15 commercial vehicles will be looked at during each minute of the 72-hour-long safety push.

Truck drivers in Kentucky and around the country with body mass indexes of 35 or higher may be more likely to have to undergo sleep apnea testing after the U.S. Supreme Court announced on April 3 that it would not hear a case challenging the legality of such testing. The litigation, which was filed by a truck driver, claimed that the Americans with Disabilities Act protected American workers from mandatory sleep apnea testing.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious condition that interferes with sleep patterns and can lead to extreme fatigue. Obesity increases the chances of developing the condition considerably, and many truck operators around the country ask drivers with high body mass indexes to take tests costing about $1,200 each. The goal of theses tests is to keep drivers who may be more likely to be involved in truck accidents caused by truck driver fatigue off the road.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration supports sleep apnea testing for obese truck drivers, and the agency’s Safety Advisory Committee and Medical Review Board have called for rules that would make the tests mandatory. However, trade groups including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association are against compulsory sleep apnea testing and say that drowsy driving accidents are not a serious problem.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit organization, underride guards mounted on the sides of trucks in Kentucky and throughout the country offer similar safety benefits to those that are mounted on the rear of the vehicles. Regulations mandating rear underride guards are under consideration.

The IIHS did two crash tests in 2017. One was using an underride guard and the other was using a fiberglass side skirt that was not designed for underride protection. In both 35-mph crash tests, a 53-foot dry van trailer was hit in the center by a mid-size passenger car. The first test used the underride protection, and while it bent, it also prevented the car from going under the truck. In the second test, using the side skirt, the roof came off and the car became wedged under the truck. According to the IIHS, that crash probably would have been fatal for vehicle occupants.

As a result of these tests, the IIHS says that side underride guards should be mandated as well. This was the first evaluation of a side guard by the IIHS.

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