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*.
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.
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.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has withdrawn a proposed rule revising its method for determining the safety fitness of motor carriers. The notice of proposed rulemaking, issued on Jan. 21, 2016, set forth a new methodology for evaluating whether a motor carrier is not fit to operate commercial motor vehicles. The new methodology would have determined when a motor carrier is not fit to operate commercial motor vehicles in or affecting interstate commerce based on the carrier’s on-road safety data; an investigation; or a combination of on-road safety data and investigation information.
FMCSA’s proposal sought to replace its current three safety fitness ratings — “satisfactory,” “conditional,” and “unsatisfactory” — with just one rating, “unfit.” However, that idea was challenged by some industry groups, including the National School Transportation Association (NSTA). The NSTA stated that the current safety fitness rating system aligns well with the safety culture within the school transportation industry. NSTA raised concerns that the proposed new system would leave a safe carrier unrated, offering limited guidance on the safety record of the carrier and causing potential confusion among carriers, law enforcement, and the public.
In February, a truck driver died when his tractor trailer crashed through the guard rail and went over the side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, plunging into the water. Many were quick to blame the crash on high winds when it came to light that just before the crash, a wind restriction prohibiting tractor-trailer traffic on the bridge had been lifted.
However, Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel authorities maintain the crash occurred due to the driver’s error in passing another tractor trailer – and was not wind-related. CBBT Police Chief Edward Spencer says the truck was in the right lane when the driver attempted to pass a tractor trailer in front of him. Upon returning to the right lane, the truck rode up onto the curb, went through the guard rail, and fell into the water below.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that in 2015, 3,852 people died in crashes involving large trucks. Sixteen percent of these deaths were truck occupants; 69 percent were passenger vehicle occupants; and 15 percent were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists.
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?
A 2012 federally-funded study conducted by the Virginia Tech University Transportation Institute and the American Transportation Research Institute, revealed that speed reduction decreases the number of truck crashes on U.S. roadways. The study included data from 20 fleets, 15,000 crashes, and 138,000 trucks.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has used the study as supporting evidence for its new proposed rule to mandate Speed Limiters on commercial vehicles. The Speed Limiter Rule would physically prevent trucks from exceeding a maximum speed of up to 68 miles per hour.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is continuing its campaign to prevent crashes by improving commercial truck safety. It recently issued a modification rule to allow voluntary placement of safety devices in the windshield area of cars and commercial vehicles. These safety systems are reputed to decrease driver errors and protect those on the road from catastrophic crashes and injuries. The FMCA has the authority to “regulate drivers, motor carriers, and vehicle equipment,” including regulatory power over commercial vehicle safety.