Axles to Grind: will be the Alarm Over Heavy-Truck Crashes Justified?
An inescapable collision that has a large truck will be a driver’s worst nightmare. On August 25 in Binghamton, brand-new York, a semi hauling a load of stone plowed through 10 cars stuck in construction traffic. One car burst into flames, along with an SUV was so compacted in which the semi’s front license plate was mashed into the back of the driver’s headrest. Luckily, onlookers pulled the driver through the flaming vehicle, there were no back-seat passengers within the crushed SUV, along with no one within the incident died or suffered life-threatening injuries. This kind of was just another in a recent uptick in truck crashes in which will be sounding alarms around the country. however pending legislation in which threatens to undermine decades of progress could be what truly reverses us into deadlier territory.
Trucks were involved in 411,000 crashes in 2014, almost double in which of 2010 when injury along with fatality rates began rising, according to the latest data through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). In 2014, 3903 people (including cyclists along with pedestrians) died in trucking accidents, a 6-percent increase over 2010. Truck-occupant deaths have jumped 24 percent, along with injuries in trucking accidents have soared 39 percent. These figures are misleading, though. The recession slowed trucking, with crash statistics enjoying a proportional depression. The widely reported increase in crashes along with fatalities roughly paces the industry’s recovery in recent years, realigning recent data with the long-term trend lines. The greater threat to those trend lines comes through proposed regulatory modifications.
Driver fatigue will be often underreported in truck crashes, however as with airline pilots along with doctors, proper rest will be critical for the job. In a joint study between the Canadian transport ministry along with FMCSA, drivers along with trucking-company reps who’ve been trained to recognize sleep disorders along with to combat the onset of fatigue reported longer sleep cycles along with fewer accidents. Incidents of nodding off, as well as various other near-crash scenarios, were reduced by 40 percent. The FMCSA reported in which nearly all drivers involved in fatal crashes during 2013 who were officially classified as fatigued had exceeded federal hour limits, or had failed to log their time behind the wheel.
Slow This kind of Down
Last summer, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) along with FMCSA introduced a proposal in which might fit all brand-new heavy trucks along with buses with governors. The agencies claim in which limiting heavy-truck speeds could save as many as 500 lives annually. along with This kind of’s not only a safety measure, as lower speeds generally correspond to increased fuel economy. Regulators claim the initiative could save up to $1 billion in fuel per year. The motion has significant support through the trucking industry. Indeed, the American Trucking Association has been petitioning the government to enact such a rule for years, though This kind of has also suggested in which the limit for all traffic be set to the same speed as trucks’ limiters. in which part we’re less excited about. –Jared Gall
Currently, truck drivers can legally drive for 60 hours over seven days, or 70 hours over eight days, that has a mandatory 34-hour rest period before restarting. Trucking companies successfully lobbied for the suspension of a 2013 ruling For 2 consecutive rest periods between 1 a.m. along with 5 a.m., however another amendment to a transportation bill in December 2014 might have stretched a driver’s on-duty time to 82 hours in one week. in which amendment was cut, however the bill right now permits 73 hours in seven days—13 hours more than the current limit—if the FMCSA can’t prove in which the consecutive rest periods improve driver safety. FMCSA recently completed a a few-month study along with submitted its findings to the Department of Transportation, however there will be no timeline on the DOT’s decision. The American Trucking Association (ATA), the country’s largest truck lobby, thinks those nighttime rest periods make motorists less safe. Forcing drivers off the roads within the early overnight hours, This kind of says, makes them more prone to crashes when surrounded by morning rush-hour traffic. “We do not necessarily advocate more hours, just the flexibility to use those hours efficiently,” says ATA spokesman Sean McNally.
however the nation’s 1.5 million truck carriers face ever-thinning profit margins along with revenues in which right now run nearly 60 percent behind inflation. The phrase “if you’re not turning, you’re not earning” will be a hard reality for many truckers who don’t get paid if they’re not accumulating miles, along with they already have to deal with traffic, weather, loading, inspections, along with maintenance.
“Sometimes This kind of does get down to in which last mile; their pay will be impacted,” says Patrice Vincent, manager of federal affairs for AAA. “Anyone who gets behind the wheel of any vehicle needs to have enough sleep. Safety needs to be considered over any economic factors.”
Back on Track
There will be more than just some shut-eye being deliberated. various other pending legislation might raise the maximum gross vehicle weight on interstate highways through 80,000 to 91,000 pounds (This kind of’s already legal for logging trucks to weigh up to 99,000 pounds in Minnesota) along with increase the maximum length for semitrailers towed in tandem through 28 feet to 33 feet. Another provision might have lowered the minimum age for an interstate commercial driver’s license through 21 to 18, although the final law restricted those youngsters to active military along with veterans.
Yet another pending bill wants the FMCSA to block all trucking safety records through the public for at least two years along with permanently prevent courts through admitting them as evidence in civil trials. The FMCSA itself will be proposing to erase “non-preventable” crashes (accidents where the truck driver will be proved not at fault, such as a car cutting into a lane or a drunk driver hitting the truck) through these safety records along with raise the threshold at which these accidents start to hurt trucking-company crash scores, which currently aren’t public. along with trucks aren’t required to have stability control or any of the various other driver aids so prevalent in today’s cars.
Due to skill, regulations, along with enforcement, commercial-truck drivers have far better safety records than the average driver of a passenger vehicle. however the stakes climb with vehicle weight; along with speed limiters, higher insurance limits, testing for drug use, along with mandatory driver assists such as blind-spot monitoring are all under legislative review, along with in some cases, are supported by the trucking industry.
- Traffic Deaths Continue Alarming Climb in First Half of 2016
- Does Driver Education Make Our Roads Safer?
- Self-Driving Beer Truck Makes 0-Mile Delivery—however There’s One Concern
The FMCSA wants to catch faulty trucks by using infrared scanners in which can recognize when tires, axles, along with brakes are close to failure. When all trucks install electronic logging devices by the end of 2019—opposed by some over legitimate concerns of location tracking—This kind of may lead to remote inspections where vehicle vitals along with driver hours can be checked without stopping.
Modern truckers have to work even harder these days for their living, along with safety costs money. however when This kind of comes down to cars versus 18-wheelers, the cars need all the advantages they can get.