Collisions involving large commercial vehicles claim the lives of thousands of road users , and most of these accidents in Virginia and around the country are caused by driver behavior, according to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance coordinates the safety initiatives of the private sector with the regulatory and enforcement efforts of federal, state and provincial government agencies, and one of the nonprofit organization’s most effective campaigns is its annual Operation Safe Driver Week.
During the CVSA safety initiative that is scheduled to begin on Oct. 16, the nation’s law enforcement agencies will be paying closer attention to how commercial vehicles are being operated and how those behind the wheels of passenger vehicles behave when in their presence. Roadside inspectors will also be busy during the initiative.
In 2015, police pulled over 21,012 passenger and commercial vehicles during Operation Safe Driver Week, and roadside inspectors checked the safety equipment on 19,480 tractor-trailers. Police most frequently cited vehicle operators for speeding and not wearing their safety belts. The FMCSA says that driver error is the primary cause of about 88 percent of tractor-trailer accidents and approximately 93 percent of passenger vehicle crashes.
Fully-laden commercial vehicles can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, and they can cause catastrophic damage when they are poorly maintained or driven negligently at highway speeds. Attorneys pursuing civil remedies on behalf of truck accident victims often file lawsuits against commercial vehicle drivers, but trucking companies may also be sued in certain situations. Sophisticated air braking systems and other commercial vehicle safety equipment can prevent crashes and serious injuries when they are properly maintained, but companies that cut corners in this area to save money could face litigation when accidents are linked to substandard parts or sloppy repair work.