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Articles Tagged with Truck Accidents

On Dec. 12, two U.S. senators introduced a bill that would require all tractor-trailer trucks to have side and front crash guards. Safety experts say that the proposed legislation would make roads safer in Kentucky and across the country.

Federal statistics show that over 200 Americans are killed in side underride collisions with trucks each year. In this type of accident, a passenger vehicle slides beneath the side of a truck’s trailer. When this occurs, the top of the passenger vehicle can be ripped off, killing the people inside. The National Transportation Safety Board says that side guards would prevent many underride accidents, but the trucking industry has resisted calls to install the safety devices.

To address the issue, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced the Stop Underrides Act of 2017. If the bill passes, it will make side guards mandatory on all trucks. Safety advocates claim that the legislation is necessary because the trucking industry refuses to voluntarily install the safety devices. Meanwhile, those who oppose the bill claim that side guards are too costly and could add too much weight to trucks. Rear guards have been required on tractor-trailers since 1998.

Every day in Kentucky, passenger vehicles and large commercial trucks share the roads. The sheer size and weight of large trucks present significant dangers to smaller vehicles. However, drivers can apply strategies that will improve safety.

Drivers need to recognize that tractor-trailers require very long stopping distances. Big rigs can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. These trucks require about 550 feet to come to a stop when traveling at 55 mph. By comparison, a small passenger car only needs 178 feet to stop when moving at 70 mph. For this reason, people should not position themselves immediately in front of trucks. Space is also needed when merging. Drivers should accelerate ahead of an approaching truck to merge.

Maintaining a position next to a truck should be avoided as well. Many blind spots inhibit a trucker’s ability to see other cars, and a crash could happen if the truck needs to change lanes and does not see the car on its left or right. Drivers should pass to the left because the trucker has a better ability to see traffic on the left. Tailgating places drivers in danger of underride accidents, which kill about 200 people annually. To limit this hazard, motorists should maintain safe following distances or pass when possible.

A 2017 study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that the safety benefits provided by the installation of side underride guards on semi trucks are similar to those provided by the installation of rear-mounted guards. Lawmakers have announced they intend to introduce a bill to require tractor-trailers to be equipped with side underride guards in an effort to improve roadway safety in Kentucky and across the country.

American Trucking Association has stated that side guards may improve safety, but it was not certain that a legislative mandate was required. According to the ATA, the installation of side guards may cause trailers to deteriorate more quickly, perhaps creating safety risks due to potential failure of a trailer on the road. The ATA said active safety systems, which prevent motor vehicle accidents from occurring, may make more sense than passive systems like side underride guards.

Research by the IIHS indicates that side underride guards may reduce injury risk in side-trailer accidents by approximately 75 percent. In its report, IIHS claimed that side-trailer crashes resulted in 301 fatalities during the period studied.

As affordable housing grows more remote from metropolitan areas, and as the number of workers increases, a corresponding increase in commuting times can be seen. This is true in Kentucky and throughout the United States. Long commuting times have an especially negative impact on commercial truck drivers as they give drivers less time for rest and put them at risk for health conditions like heart disease.

For example, a study analyzing 4,297 adults from 12 metropolitan Texas counties found that drivers with long commutes tend to be overweight, less physically fit and more likely to have high blood pressure. Lack of sleep also leads to fatigued truckers, which can endanger those they share the road with.

As a result, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has stated that it will conduct a survey to gather data about commercial truckers who commute: how many of these drivers commute to work, how far they travel, what time zones they cross and how they feel at the end of the day. The FMCSA is also inquiring into commuting policies among motor carriers.

It is possible for a truck driver to be taken into custody or charged with drug offenses without an employer finding out about it. In some cases, Kentucky or any other state that issued a commercial license may not be notified of the charge either. One man renewed his CDL 10 days after admitting to police that he used heroin after being found unconscious in his rig.

Roughly two weeks after doing so, he was in an accident after overdosing on heroin. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, over 40 percent of drivers who were killed in truck accidents and could be tested had illegal drugs in their systems. In addition to being addicted to heroin or other illegal drugs, drivers may also become addicted to Oxycontin or Percocet. Those are generally legal drugs that drivers may initially take to help with legitimate health issues.

Drug testing alone may not be enough to keep potentially dangerous drivers off of the road. Currently, drivers are tested before they are hired, after they return to work and whenever there is a reasonable suspicion that a driver may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, communication issues between federal and state agencies may play a role in allowing drivers who have drug or alcohol problems to stay on the road.

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.

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