Is it a good idea for two 80,000-pound 18-wheelers to tailgate one another? Many states are considering that issue, due to the emergence of technology designed to make trucks safer, coupled with vehicle-to-vehicle communications. These technologies would allow two digitally-connected trucks to follow each other on the road at a closer distance because the electronically-linked trucks accelerate and brake together, bypassing the driver. This electronic pairing of tractor-trailers is called platooning.

Platooning Saves Fuel

Platooning can save money by reducing fuel costs due to “slipstreaming.” When two trucks pair up closely, the air flows more smoothly with less air drag. A truck in the slipstream of another tractor-trailer can save 10 percent on fuel. The truck in front will also burn about 5 percent less fuel. Buying diesel typically amounts to 20 percent of operating costs, which across the industry runs into billions of dollars.

Is Tractor-Trailer Platooning Legal?

Continue Reading Platooning Tractor-Trailers – Is it Safe?

A new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report found that truck safety technologies can prevent as many as 77,077 crashes, 23,275 injuries, and the loss of 500 lives per year. The report, Leveraging Large Truck Technology and Engineering to Realize Safety Gains, examined the safety benefits and costs of installing four advanced safety technologies in existing and new large trucks.

In 2015, large trucks were involved in more than 400,000 crashes that resulted in more than 4,000 deaths and 116,000 injuries.

AAA Report Illustrates Potential Impact of Individual Safety Technologies

AAA recommends that all large trucks – those already on the road as well as new trucks – be equipped with cost effective technologies that improve safety on the road.

Continue Reading Truck Safety Technology Can Prevent Thousands of Crashes Every Year

On August 1, 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will launch a demonstration program that that will enable motor carriers to dispute the determination of certain truck crashes as “preventable.”

The program is designed to aid motor carriers in improving Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scores – if the agency reclassifies the cause of crashes that were previously deemed preventable.

Continue Reading FMCSA Announces New Crash Fault Dispute Program

Highway fatalities are climbing and the nation’s roads and bridges are deteriorating at a fast pace; nonetheless the trucking industry is again asking Congress to permit a new generation of heavier trucks. The higher weight limit is supported in part by the trucking industry and by shippers who would benefit from moving heavier loads.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2015,” 4,311 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes in 2015, an eight-percent increase from 2014.

Truck driver fatigue, speeding, and the difficulty of stopping a heavy vehicle all contribute to the disproportionate involvement of trucks in crashes. Many fatal truck crashes involve rear-end collisions. These crashes are usually caused when trucks come up on stalled vehicles.

Continue Reading Bigger Trucks? Bigger Danger.

A recent study conducted by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) found that speed-related, at-fault truck crashes dropped by 73 percent after mandatory speed limiter technology legislation took effect in Ontario, Canada.

Other findings of the study include:

  • Post 2009, large truck drivers produced fewer at-fault speed collisions relative to all at-fault driver actions
  • There is no evidence to suggest worse collision outcomes for large truck drivers post 2009
  • The percentage of truck drivers that were struck from the rear stayed more-or-less the same from pre- to post-legislation (10.03 percent of total collisions 2006-2008 and 10.47 percent 2010-2012), whereas for other drivers the rate increased (18.6 percent 2006-2008 and 21.3 percent 2010-2012)

The year-long study dispelled opponents’ position that requiring large trucks to slow down would lead to rear-end crashes. The study further discounted the contention that speed limiters would cause truck drivers to adjust their driving habits to compensate for lost time resulting from slower driving.

The study found no evidence that speed limiters contributed to an increase in collisions involving truck drivers, including rear-end crashes.

Continue Reading Do Speed Limiters Reduce Truck Crashes?

In an attempt to keep insurance rate increases down, and possibly avoid cancellation, some trucking companies are implementing policies requiring truckers to use certain safety technology — such as onboard cameras and cellphone call/text blockers.

Onboard video cameras can capture risky driving and crash or road rage footage. Also, the video footage can be used in employee training and the employee review process. Overriding some drivers’ objections to being monitored by dashboard cameras for privacy and other reasons, the trucking companies noted that there are also benefits to such monitoring for the drivers. Video dashboard monitors can help a driver correct safety-related driving errors.

Continue Reading Trucking Companies Implementing Safety Technology to Decrease Insurance Premiums: Doing the Right Thing for the Wrong Reason

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has withdrawn its November 28, 2014 advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) increasing financial responsibility for motor carriers, freight forwarders, and brokers. FMCSA is authorized to establish minimum levels of financial responsibility for motor carriers at or above the minimum levels set by Congress.

The 2014 ANPRM arose from a study ordered by Congress in response to the increasing costs of truck-related crashes. In April of 2014, FMCSA reported to Congress that current financial responsibility minimums for the commercial motor vehicle industry were inadequate to meet the costs of some crashes. Congress considered raising the insurance minimum for general freight from $750,000 to $1 million, but decided to have FMCSA prepare an analysis that could become the basis for changes in the standard. The last minimum adjustment was in 1985, which set the current standard of $750,000 for general freight, $5 million for the most dangerous hazmat freight and $1 million for other hazmat freight.

Continue Reading FMCSA Withdraws Rulemaking for Increase Minimum Insurance Requirements

A new video of crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) show how underride guards can prevent passenger vehicles from going underneath the side of a tractor trailer in a collision. Check out the video below*.

Continue Reading Video Shows Side Underride Guards Can Stop Cars from Sliding Under Tractor-Trailers

Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer) has proposed a bill to ban big rigs on Route 29 in Trenton. As reported by the Trenton Times/NJ.com, trucks weighing more than 13 tons will no longer allowed on Rt. 29 in Trenton, with the exception of trucks making local deliveries within three miles. Trucks over 13 tons would be banned from traveling on Route 29 from I-95 in Ewing to Route 129 in Hamilton.

The Senate Transportation Committee voted 5-0 for the bill. It now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

A 2002 traffic regulation already prohibits trucks weighing more than 13 tons from the section of Route 29 at issue — but the new bill would make it permanent. Traffic regulations are subject to change by the Department of Transportation.

Turner said that portion of Route 29 is a heavily traveled route that goes through residential and commercial areas in Trenton. She noted that trucks often carry hazardous materials that may be dangerous to other motorists and the surrounding neighborhoods.

While driving, you may occasionally notice protruding spike-like lug nut covers on the wheels of tractor-trailers. While usually made of plastic, these spikes may also be made of aluminum or metal. One hazard is that these spikes may extend out too far from the outer edge of the rim of the wheel and come into contact with other vehicles, including motorcyclists and bicyclists, or even pedestrians.

As I previously discussed in a prior blog post, nearly half of bicyclists and one quarter of pedestrians who are killed by a large truck first impact the side of the truck. It is easy to see the increased danger of side impacts if the bicyclist, motorcyclist, or pedestrian makes contact with a wheel’s spikes.

Continue Reading Are Spiked Wheel Ornaments a Safety Hazard?