Better safety features have helped reduce the number of traffic accidents and fatalities in recent decades. The trucking industry, however, hasn't kept up with this trend. In fact, some areas have seen increased traffic accidents for multiple reasons because there are more trucks on the road. Read on to find out why.
Improved safety standards helped motor vehicle fatalities in Texas fall for six decades. But, since the fracking boom started in 2008, fatalities and accidents have steadily increased.
Fracking contributes to traffic accidents by putting overworked, poorly trained employees on the road. Some accidents have even been caused by oil field truckers who drive without insurance or proper licenses. The industry has standards, but some companies avoid them to make fast money in a rapidly growing industry.
In order to solve this problem, oversight agencies and court systems need to make sure that all companies follow all regulations. Without regulation and steep fines, some parts of the industry will keep putting innocent drivers at risk.
Poor Vehicle Maintenance
Maintenance is a crucial aspect of keeping drivers safe. Companies need to make sure that every safety feature works before their employees hit the highway. This includes checking:
Companies also need to make sure they keep up with recall notices. Consumers can often get compensated when airbags and other safety features fail on their vehicles. To learn more, you can read this article about product liability and defective truck parts on the Tracey&Fox website.
When poor vehicle maintenance causes an accident with other vehicles, though, drivers can sue the trucking companies or individuals for compensation. It's a serious problem that professional truckers can avoid by insisting on regular maintenance.
Loss of Sleep
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that at least 750 people die every year because fatigued truck drivers nod off or lose control of their vehicles. Twenty thousand more people are injured every year. Sleepy drivers can't respond to emergency situations as well as rested drivers.
Unfortunately, many professional truck drivers feel pressured to stay awake as long as possible so they can earn more money. There are already regulations in place to prevent fatigued driving. Some drivers are clearly ignoring those regulations.
Adding electronic on-board recorders could reduce the number of fatigued drivers on the road. Unlike paper records, drivers cannot alter electronic records. That would give checkpoints and employers a better understanding of how drivers behave on the road.
Professional drivers lead sedentary lifestyles. It's hard to eat well and get enough exercise when you're sitting behind the wheel of a truck all day. Recent research shows that truck drivers have a large number of health risk factors, including:
Smoking, fatigue, and physical inactivity were other causes for concern.
These problems mean that drivers face significantly higher risks of succumbing to heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and other life-threatening diseases. That's bad for the drivers, but it's also bad for other people on the road.
Truckers need to understand how their lifestyle choices affect health and work performance in order to address these problems.
Ignorance of Safe Driving Rules
Driving a big rig is not like driving a typical motor vehicle. The increased size and weight, alone, make them more difficult to operate. That's why professional drivers need special licenses to operate commercial trucks.
Somehow, there are drivers who earn their licenses without learning important safety rules. They may not know where their blind spots are or where they can safely pull off the road for a break.
Some may not even understand that semi-trucks need a longer distance to stop. A commuter car travelling at 65 mph needs about 316 feet to reach a complete stop. A big rig truck needs about 525 feet to reach a complete stop. There's so much weight behind the truck that it needs considerable room to stop without causing accidents.
Stricter tests could help ensure that more truckers know safe driving rules. Requiring professional drivers to take tests more often could have an even bigger effect.
What are the biggest problems you see with big rig trucks? Have you ever been involved in an accident with a truck?