The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance has announced that its annual Operation Safe Driver Week will be held in 2019 from July 14 to 20. Both passenger vehicle and commercial vehicle drivers in Pennsylvania should know that during this event, law enforcement officials across North America will be increasingly on the lookout for unsafe drivers. Those who are stopped may be issued a warning or citation.
Pennsylvania readers may have heard about the tragic Florida traffic accident that took the lives of seven people, including five children, as they were driving to Disney World in January. The victims' vehicle was one of thousands that are struck by large trucks across the United States each year, and the problem is getting worse.
Truck drivers in Pennsylvania may be curious to know the reasons for the trend of increasing truck accidents. Data from the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute shows that the majority of truck-involved injury crashes in North Dakota arise in the oil region. About 67% from the years 2012 to 2016 occurred in the state's oil counties. This is according to data from the Vision Zero Plan, a statewide initiative to reduce motor vehicle crash fatalities and serious injuries.
The annual International Roadcheck inspection blitz will come to highways in Pennsylvania and across the country on June 4. Every year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance conducts a high-profile series of inspections to highlight the dangers of poor truck maintenance on the road. Poorly maintained trucks that violate safety rules can lead to drivers losing control and causing severe car accidents, with the attendant injuries and fatalities. Truck accidents can be especially devastating to others on the road in smaller trucks and passenger cars.
Truck accidents are unfortunately a common occurrence in Pennsylvania and around the country. Because of the size and weight of these massive vehicles, other road users face an elevated risk of serious and often fatal injuries. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration statistics indicate that these concerns are well-founded, especially as the last several years show a trend of rising large truck accidents and an attendant increase in fatalities. From 2015 to 2017, the percentage of fatal crashes involving a large truck rose each year, as did the number of fatalities in accidents involving large trucks and buses.
Pennsylvania roadways don't seem to be getting safer despite improved technology. This is according to a Road Safe America report released on Jan. 29. The group analyzed crash data for 2009-2017 and found that 44 out of 50 states saw an increase in big truck crashes. Pennsylvania had one of the highest truck crash fatality rates.
Drivers in Pennsylvania should consider the following safety tips so that they can reduce their chances of crashing into a large truck. According to the U.S. DOT, large truck crashes led to 3,986 fatalities in 2016. More than 65 percent of those victims were the occupants of lighter vehicles. Only 17 percent were truckers.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration maintains hours-of-service regulations for commercial drivers, but it has long provided exemptions for truckers in the agricultural industry. Pennsylvania residents should know that many safety advocates are worried about the effect of these exemptions. In particular, the exemptions may be allowing livestock haulers to work unreasonably long hours and become drowsy at the wheel.
Large truck accidents can pose a serious risk to other drivers and passengers on Pennsylvania roads. Statistics indicate that the number of serious motor vehicle accidents involving concrete delivery trucks and dump trucks continues to climb. Even though insurance premiums for these types of trucks in a fleet have also escalated, the problem poses a significant risk to others on the road, especially when poor driving habits or other driver negligence is to blame. Various safety regulators have tried to address the issue by introducing technologies to measure roadway incidents and cut back on driver fatigue.
Pennsylvania motorists may not know that truck accidents around the country claimed 4,761 lives in 2017 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and some observers are saying that federal hours of service rules could be partly responsible. The regulations were put into place to prevent truck drivers from remaining behind the wheel while dangerously fatigued, but some trade groups claim that they encourage speeding and recklessness.