In 2017, there was a 9% increase in fatal collisions involving large trucks or buses. Why?
Too often, the answer is speed and “speed kills.” Companies employ drivers who are paid in such a way that getting to the destination sooner than later may earn more money. Drivers are sometimes paid so little that driving more hours is required to make a decent living.
But the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations have numerous requirements for hours of service and qualifications. A driver has a 14-hour window during which he can drive 11 hours, but no more than 8 consecutive hours before he or she must take a 30-minute break. Once the 14-hour window closes, the driver must be off duty for 10 hours. By 2019, most truck tractors must be equipped with an electronic hour of service data recording system.
For vehicles over 26,000 pounds, such as tractor-trailer combinations, the driver must comply with the driver qualification regulations and must have a Commercial Driver’s License issued by a state who tested him, or must otherwise be tested by the employer. Even trucks less than 26,000 pounds, but more than 10,000 pounds are required to comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations if the employer’s state has adopted them, as Pennsylvania has, with some exceptions.
Many collisions occur due to drivers being fatigued, or just distracted. Most states prohibit the use of cell phones during operation. It is curious whether GPS usage is distracting drivers.
Serious injuries and deaths are caused by careless lane changes, loss of control or cargo loads being unsecured and/or too heavy. Simple rear end collisions can be devastating. These result from excess speed or following too closely. Trucking practices recommend that drivers on high speed roads maintain a time at a certain speed that will provide enough distance to stop. At a minimum, trucks, like cars, must travel at a speed within which they can stop before striking the car in front.
As a car driver, always know what vehicles are nearest to you and how they appear to be traveling.