The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported that more than 4,700 people died in crashes involving large commercial trucks, such as tractor-trailers, in 2017 – a jump of some 9 percent over 2016. In June of this year, the federal government projected that deaths in trucking accidents will rise another 3 percent in 2018, after all the final data is tallied.
As part of its watchdog role over the nation’s trucking industry, the FMCSA provides a list of safety tips to commercial bus drivers and commercial truck drivers. These tips signal the most common causes of deadly commercial trucking accidents. The safety warnings were updated online in May 2019.
Truck Drivers Distracted by Cell Phones
The FMCSA urges truckers not to drive distracted, explaining that big rig drivers who are texting take their eyes off the road for nearly five seconds. Traveling at just 55 mph – a speed most truckers normally exceed on the highway – it takes a fully loaded tractor-trailer more than the length of a football field to stop in that short time.
It is not only a good idea for truckers to not text while they drive, it’s the law. Truck drivers legally can only use cell phones for calling in a hands-free fashion as well.
But cell phones aren’t the only things that can distract commercial truck drivers. The FMCSA warns against drinking, eating or any other in-cab activity that potentially causes truckers to lose focus on their most important task.
A trucker’s bad judgment can cause a fatal crash, such as driving too fast for road, traffic or weather conditions. So the federal government urges truckers to slow down when the weather is bad or when approaching a curve that can lead to a truck rollover.
In a rollover crash, the trucker loses all control and the entire rig can topple over. When that happens, drivers going with or against the truck are in peril as the truck, the trailer and the load all may sprawl in several directions and over several lanes of busy traffic. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, commercial trucks are much more likely to be involved in multiple-vehicle accidents than any other vehicle.
Shifting Loads and Truck Rollover Crashes
A shifting load can cause a deadly truck rollover crash. Same for bad brakes or other defective truck equipment. The FMCSA points out that improperly loaded or maintained trucks are serious safety issues and urges truckers and trucking companies to keep their trucks in good working order and to ensure their cargo is loaded and secured properly.
“Stay sharp” is another federal government driving tip to commercial truckers. The FMCSA recommends drivers stay off the road when they are too sick to focus or on medication that can make them dizzy.
The agency points out the dangers of fatigued truck drivers. Yet, the federal government is considering loosening some of the current rules that require drivers to get proper rest. Part of this process is conducting public comment sessions. A session relating to potential Hours of Service Rules changes was held in mid-August at a trucking convention in Dallas. Not surprisingly, trucker after trucker took to the microphone to rail against today’s mandated 30-minute rest break for over-the-road truck drivers.
Clearly, the numbers spell out that not enough truck drivers and trucking companies are adhering to safe driving and operating practices. And those numbers equate to immeasurable human loss.
If you lost a loved one or you were seriously injured in a crash caused by a commercial truck, speak with an attorney who represents truck accident victims about bringing those responsible to account.
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