The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released the findings of its last large-truck crash causation study back in 2006. Drivers in West Virginia probably understand that a lot has changed since then. Texting and other phone use behind the wheel has grown to be habitual for many drivers, and truckers are becoming distracted by new tech like navigation and fleet management systems.
Large truck accidents are all too common in West Virginia, and many of these accidents involve jackknifing, which is when the truck folds in on itself. Jackknifing is preventable; it's simply that truckers may be inexperienced and not follow certain safety guidelines. Below are a few tips that truckers should follow to avoid jackknifing.
Most West Virginia motorists realize that commercial truck accidents have the potential to be a lot more dangerous than passenger vehicle crashes. This is due in part to the size difference between an 18-wheeler and a passenger vehicle. Most passenger cars are going to weigh around 4,000 pounds. An 18-wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Understandably, truck accidents can lead to injury and death. While it's possible for the truck driver to get injured, more times than not, it's the individual in the passenger vehicle who is hurt the worst.
Accidents involving large trucks are often more severe than other accidents on West Virginia highways because of the size of big rigs relative to other vehicles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced that it will be working with different representatives from the trucking industry to provide education about the benefits of safety technologies, including lane departure warning systems and automatic emergency braking. The administrator of the FMCSA also announced a pilot program that will put younger drivers behind the wheel of large trucks.
Ball State University released a study involving more than 150,000 working adults that traced the rise of sleep deprivation in several industries. West Virginia residents should know that lack of sleep mostly plagues industries where 24-hour shift work is common. It is no surprise that commercial truckers have been frequently affected.
Automatic emergency braking systems would become mandatory safety equipment on all heavy commercial vehicles in West Virginia and around the country if a bill currently being considered by the House Highways and Transit Subcommittee is signed into law. Road safety groups, like the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and the Truck Safety Coalition, say the passage of the Safe Roads Act would prevent deadly truck crashes caused by impaired, distracted or fatigued truck drivers. However, some organizations that lobby for the logistics industry oppose the legislation.
Commercial motor vehicle drivers, especially truck drivers, in West Virginia should know that a bill has been introduced that may require them to have automatic emergency braking on their vehicles. Lawmakers proposed the Safe Roads Act of 2019 (H.R. 3773) on July 16, 2019, after being prompted by the Truck Safety Coalition, a safety nonprofit.
Large truck accidents have increased in West Virginia and across the U.S. over the past few years. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that accidents involving large trucks caused 4,237 deaths and 344,000 injuries in 2017, which represents a 10% increase over 2016. Despite this, the U.S. Department of Transportation is reportedly preparing to loosen hours-of-service regulations for truckers.
Truck drivers who operate vehicles in West Virginia need to make safety their top priority. Otherwise, they could lose their jobs and put other lives in jeopardy. However, drivers of passenger vehicles can take steps to help keep the roads safe as well. For instance, a survey of commercial truck drivers conducted by Teletrac Navman found that failing to signal a lane change was among the top concerns drivers had.
Speed continues to kill motorists in West Virginia and across the U.S. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speed played a role in 26% of all fatal traffic accidents nationwide in 2017, claiming the lives of 9,717 people. In addition, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance says that speed has been a contributing factor in almost one-third of all the deadly crashes that have occurred over the last 20 years.