Articles Posted in Trucking Accidents

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.

Driverless trucks may soon be appearing in Kentucky and across the United States. While the technology to empower self-driving tractor-trailers still needs heavy refinement, there are a number of companies working hard to be first to bring these trucks to market.

Of course, driverless trucks raise new concerns about safety and road-readiness as well. For example, an automated vehicle in a truck crash situation will need to determine through its own logic how to handle an imminent vehicle accident. For this reason, among many others, discussion of autonomous vehicles continues to center on this technology’s use as an assistance mechanism for drivers rather than as a replacement.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration held a hearing on autonomous vehicles in the trucking industry. As an agency with a heavy focus on safety, the hearing heard testimony about several issues. One primary issue discussed was whether autonomous vehicles will allow truck drivers to work longer consecutive hours of service. Given that truck driver fatigue is already a significant safety concern, this issue prompted a range of testimony. In addition, some observers also noted that it is possible for inattentiveness and distraction to increase because of the low level of attention needed by the highly automated vehicle.

Kentucky truckers are probably aware of the annual inspection of fleets and drivers known as the International Roadcheck inspection blitz, which is conducted by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. The event is scheduled for June 6 through 8 and will focus on how to properly secure cargo.

Adhering to the North American Standard Level I inspections, inspectors will be ensuring all equipment and cargo on trucks is properly secured and will be thoroughly analyzing tie-downs for damage and wear. Cargo-securement violations include damaged, insufficient or loose tie-downs, failure to secure truck equipment and failure to prevent shifting/loss of cargo. To prepare for the stringent inspection event, CVSA has prepared a flyer outlining cargo securement tips. The North American Standard Level I inspections are known to be the most comprehensive inspections of both trucks and their drivers.

For the safety of themselves and other motorists, truck drivers and truck companies are required to ensure their cargo is not oversized and is properly secured. In addition, those who operate 18-wheelers should be extra vigilant when traveling around passenger vehicles and avoid improper braking, rear-end collisions, speeding and reckless driving; otherwise, they could be held liable for crash-related injuries if they cause an accident.

While there are a number of self-driving cars being tested, computer-driven semi trucks aren’t standard yet. One of the reasons for this is that it’s difficult for autonomous trucks to make deliveries. While automated vehicles seem to have little problems dealing with roadways, the maneuvering involved in parking a truck at a loading bay is still difficult.

One company based in California, Starsky Robotics, believes that it may have developed a workaround for this issue. Along with using front and side camera systems and radar, the company also uses drivers that can remotely control trucks from an office.

According to company representatives, they are not anti-truck driver. Instead, they say that they are offering a safer option for long-haul truck drivers. The way their system works is that a driver in an office is able to control the throttle, steering and transmission. That driver is able to tell what the truck is doing and where obstacles may be thanks to the truck’s cameras and radar.

Semi-tractor trailers are a ubiquitous sight on Kentucky roads and highways, and most passenger vehicle drivers understand that commercial vehicles weighing as much as 80,000 pounds should be approached with caution. Accidents involving buses and large trucks claim thousands of lives each year in the United States, and 60 percent of these fatal crashes involve an impact with the front of trucks. Sometimes these front-end collisions are caused by distracted or fatigued truck drivers braking too late or not at all, but they are most often the result of dangerous passing maneuvers.

It can take twice as long for a fully laden tractor-trailer to come to a safe stop, and emergency braking can cause large trucks to jackknife dangerously. Passenger vehicle drivers should bear this in mind when passing slow-moving trucks, and they should also remember that commercial vehicles have much larger blind spots than cars, pickup trucks or SUVs. Tailgating is a dangerous practice at any time, but the chances of suffering a serious injury increase exponentially when the vehicle being tailgated is a semi-tractor trailer.

About 10 percent of the motor vehicle crashes that took place in Kentucky in 2014 involved commercial vehicles, and the majority of these truck accidents were caused by the drivers of the passenger vehicles involved. In addition to dangerous passing maneuvers and tailgating, passenger vehicle drivers frequently cause accidents by weaving, misjudging clearances and failing to yield the right of way.

According to a recent study, commercial truck drivers in Kentucky and the rest of the country who have three or more health issues have four times the crash hazard of healthier drivers. Truckers may also find it difficult to remain healthy due to the nature of their profession, which requires long periods of sitting down.

The medical records of almost 50,000 commercial truck drivers were examined for the study. Nearly 35 percent of the truck drivers had indicators of one or more health conditions, such as low back pain, diabetes and heart disease, associated with poor driving. When the crash histories of the drivers were examined, it was discovered that drivers with at least three of the flagged conditions had an increased likelihood of having been involved in a crash.

Among all truckers, the rate of accidents that involved injuries was 29 per 100 million miles traveled. For drivers who suffered from at least three medical conditions, the rate rose to 93 per 100 million miles. Factors, such as age, amount of commercial driving experience and other elements that could have an impact on one’s driving ability, were taken into account in the calculation of the crash rates.

Kentucky motorists might be interested in learning that multiple large trucking carriers have petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to allow them to perform hair tests to check for drug use in truck drivers. Currently, the federal government requires urine testing.

The trucking carriers are some of the largest in the industry and include Werner, Maverick Transportation, Schneider, J.B. Hunt, Dupree Logistics and Knight. They are arguing that hair testing is much more reliable than urine testing. Currently, the carriers use hair tests to test their drivers, but they also have to conduct urine testing in addition in order to comply with federal regulations. The companies are arguing that doing so is unnecessarily expensive.

The carriers who have petitioned the FMCSA along with a few additional companies make up the Trucking Alliance, which was formed in 2010. The primary goal of the alliance is to convince the FMCSA to reform its protocols for drug testing. The FAST Act of 2015 provided that the FMCSA could accept hair tests after the Department of Health and Human Services promulgated regulations for doing so. The Department of Health and Human Services still has not issued any rules although it was required to do so by Dec. 5, 2016.

The rise in the number of distracted driving accidents in Kentucky and across the country has law enforcement agencies and road safety advocates alarmed. Efforts to warn Americans about the dangers of using electronic devices while behind the wheel have failed to make much of an impression, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has asked cellphone makers to include features that restrict what drivers are able to do with their devices.

The NHTSA wants the companies to produce cellphones that can be paired with modern automobiles or put into a driver mode when pairing is not possible. If the manufacturers comply with the request, the screens on paired devices would only be able to display notifications from emergency services. The proposed driver mode would allow mapping services to work as normal while preventing text messages, photographs and videos from being displayed.

NHTSA is hoping that cellphone manufacturers will welcome the opportunity to be part of the solution to a growing and dangerous problem. According to NHTSA figures, distracted driving car and truck accidents claimed the lives of about 10 percent of the 35,092 Americans who died on the nation’s roads in 2015. Members of the public have until Feb. 3 to submit comments about the proposed measures.

Kentucky residents may be interested to know that 20,648 drivers were pulled over during Operation Safe Driver Week in October. That figure includes both commercial truck drivers and those driving passenger vehicles. There were 19,657 citations or warnings issued in the United States while another 991 were issued in Canada. Of those citations, roughly 75 percent of them were for speeding or other moving violations.

The goal of Operation Safe Driver is to reduce the number of injuries and deaths related to unsafe behavior on the road. Examples of unsafe behavior include speeding or failing to use a safety belt. Other common infractions include driving while distracted or refusing to obey a traffic control device. Of the citations issued to passenger vehicles, 39 percent were for speeding while 20 percent of all citations given to commercial vehicles were for speeding.

During this year’s campaign, 11,182 citations were given to commercial drivers. This was a significant drop from the 13,807 in 2015. However, the number of citations or warnings given to passenger vehicle drivers increased from 7,205 in 2015 to 9,466 in 2016. Numbers were taken from data collected by almost 3,000 law enforcement officials in both the United States and Canada.

Commercial trucks present substantial hazards to smaller vehicles when they are involved in collisions. Both truck drivers and other motorists need to be aware of the dangers that these large vehicles present to minimize the risk of being involved in an accident.

Passenger vehicle drivers sometimes cause accidents with large trucks because they’re unaware of how difficult it is for truck drivers to slow and control their rigs. Truck drivers are unable to see vehicles that are driving alongside or directly behind them, so motorists should steer clear of these areas. When passing large trucks, drivers should do so quickly and tap their horns so that the truck drivers are aware of their presence. Motorists should also avoid changing lanes suddenly in front of large trucks, driving between big rigs and leaving their vehicles in the travel lane.

Truck drivers should be aware of the braking distances that are required to stop their trucks, have adequate training and always follow the speed limits. They should not drive when they are drowsy, and they should pay attention to the traffic around them and in front of them. They should also follow safety regulations for trucking at all times, including hours-of-service rules.

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