Tests conducted by a nonprofit safety organization indicate that lives could be saved in West Virginia and around the country if semi-tractor trailer operators were required to install side-mounted underride guards on their vehicles. Lawmakers are considering adopting regulations that would mandate the installation of rear-mounted underride guards on large trucks, but the IIHS test results indicate that side-mounted guards offer the same kind of safety benefits.
Autonomous trucks may soon be a common sight on the roads of West Virginia, but government agencies and industry groups have yet to decide how they should be regulated and how current rules should be modified to accommodate them. These issues were discussed during a session hosted by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance on April 24, and a number of trade and road safety advocacy organizations made their feelings known to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration representatives in attendance.
West Virginia commercial truck drivers face challenges when navigating heavy traffic, but rural roads appear to present the greatest hazards. According to a report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 60 percent of fatal truck accidents happened on rural roads in 2015 compared to only 25 percent on interstate highways.
Truck drivers in West Virginia and all around the country can expect 72 hours of increased scrutiny beginning on June 6 as the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance launches its annual International Roadcheck safety initiative. The organization announced on March 13 that the focus of this year's safety blitz will be cargo securement. During the 2016 International Roadcheck event, CVSA staff carried out 62,796 inspections.
West Virginia commercial truck drivers may be inspected at some point between June 6 and 8 as part of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's International Roadcheck inspection blitz. The focus for this inspection will be on cargo securement.
A robotics company has developed technology that could allow truck drivers in West Virginia and around the country to operate their vehicles without leaving their offices. Several technology firms are working on autonomous truck systems, and the San Francisco-based startup Starsky Robotics is carving out a niche for itself by focusing on final mile delivery. Navigating a large commercial vehicle to its final destination requires great precision, and the company has developed a kit that allows this delicate work to be performed remotely.
Spending endless hours behind the wheel of a semi-tractor trailer and eating at truck stops and rest areas makes maintaining good health difficult for truck drivers in West Virginia and around the country. The U.S. Department of Transportation reported in 2014 that long-haul truck drivers smoke cigarettes and suffer from conditions like diabetes and obesity at rates that are more than double those found in the general population, and a report released on Jan. 10 by the University of Utah School of Medicine has linked poor health among commercial vehicle operators with significantly higher accident rates.
Truck drivers in West Virginia may have heard about a rule called Minimum Training Requirements for Entry-Level Commercial Vehicle Operators. It was supposed to take effect on Feb. 6. However, a Jan. 20 memorandum from President Donald Trump effectively delayed its implementation.
In what appears to be an effort to reduce the number of fatal accidents on roadways in West Virginia and elsewhere across the country, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed a new set of guidelines regarding cell phone use while behind the wheel. According to an NHTSA official, distracted driving is a contributing factor in a recent rise in the number of traffic fatalities nationwide.
In early December, Republican lawmakers were successful in preventing the advancement of legislation that was intended to keep exhausted truck drivers off the roads. West Virginia motorists should know that there will be even more attempts to roll back safety rules for truckers. The American Trucking Associations, which has stated its intent to try to block state regulations that will mandate more rest breaks for truckers beyond those required by federal statutes, believes that there should be one nationwide rule governing work hours for interstate truck drivers.