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

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

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?

Volpe, The National Transportation Systems Center reports that nearly half of bicyclists and one quarter of pedestrians who are killed by a large truck first impact the side of the truck. During a crash with a large truck that has high ground clearance, pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vulnerable road users can fall into the space between the front and rear wheels and suffer often-fatal crushing injuries. Truck side guards are vehicle-based safety devices that physically cover that exposed space, shielding road users from being swept underneath the wheels.

Volpe’s review of side guard design and crash outcomes in countries requiring these safety devices indicates that the safety effectiveness of sideguards is well established. For example, following a mandate requiring truck side guards in the United Kingdom, studies showed that there was a 61 percent drop in cyclist fatalities and a 20 percent drop in pedestrian fatalities related to side-impact collisions with trucks.

Continue Reading Truck Side Guards Increase Safety

Drivers on Colorado’s Interstate 25 were largely unaware that the Otto-Budweiser semi-truck next to them had no one in the driver’s seat, on October 20, 2016. The truck was operated by autonomous driverless technology during a 120 mile maiden trip; a beer run from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs.

Does a fully loaded, driverless tractor-trailers pose a threat to the motoring public?

Continue Reading Driverless Truck Rolls Past Drivers on Freeway

The Department of Transportation recently announced a proposal to add speed limiting devices to commercial trucks in an effort to improve highway safety. The devices would physically prevent trucks from exceeding a maximum speed—recommended at 60, 65, or 68 miles per hour. The rule would apply to commercial vehicles over 26,000 pounds with motor carriers responsible for maintaining the devices and enforcing the speed rules.

Every driver knows that cars must share the highways with commercial trucks. There isn’t a separate road system. Big rigs weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds and that puts passenger cars at a serious disadvantage in a crash. The weight of the vehicles and speed at impact sometimes result in multi-car pile-ups and almost always result in serious injury or death.

Continue Reading Mandatory Speed Limiter Technology Rule May Reduce Commercial Truck Accidents

Have you ever seen a big rig parked on the shoulder of the Interstate? How about twenty of them? In the town of Mahwah, New Jersey, this is a daily occurrence. Every night truckers turn the shoulder of Interstate 287 into an improvised truck stop. This is both a nuisance and a danger.

The area where the truckers stop has steep inclines and the highway shrinks from three lanes to two, which is dangerous enough without big rigs blocking the shoulder. Truckers claim that they have no choice—the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) says they have to stop driving after 11 hours and that’s what they do—right there in the emergency lane of I-287. However, if trucking companies and truck drivers responsibly planned their routes, there would not be such a large number of trucks dangerously and illegally parked on the roadway each night.

Continue Reading Illegal Truck Stops—Drivers Ditch Safety for Convenience

The Obama administration today is proposing training standards for entry-level commercial truck and bus operators, as mandated by Congress as part of MAP-21.

In a statement, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx called it a “major step towards ensuring that commercial vehicle drivers receive the necessary training required to safely operate a large truck or motorcoach.”

Specifically, those seeking a “Class A” commercial drivers license would have to have no less than 30 hours of training behind the wheel from a program that meets minimum FMCSA standards. This also includes at least 10 hours of practice driving.

For a “Class B” commercial driver’s license, applicants would have to have at least 15 hours of training behind the wheel and seven hours on a practice range.

The new standards would apply to any first-time CDL applicants, those with a current CDL license seeking an upgrade or additional endorsement, and anyone who had previously been disqualified from a CDL again seeking to be licensed. Military drivers, farmers and firefighters would continue to be exempt.