Truck accidents can be devastating to others on the roads in Virginia. The size and weight of these massive commercial vehicles can slam into smaller passenger trucks and cars, causing serious damage and catastrophic injuries. One of the major contributors to severe truck accidents is truck driver fatigue. Drowsy driving can be extremely dangerous, with some studies showing levels of impairment can approach what's associated with drunk driving. However, the nature of truck driving could lead to people taking the wheel while exhausted. Drivers operate over lengthy, monotonous routes, driving alone and often at night.
In Virginia, truck drivers cause frequent crashes. A safety coalition sponsored by Road Safe America and the Truck Safety Coalition wants Congress to pass new safety regulations. The coalition contends that heavy-duty trucks need to have automatic emergency braking (AEB) and speed limiters. Crash data regarding truck accidents support the coalition's case. The president of Road Safe America stated that the organization has been displeased with DOT during the past decade. He hopes that President Trump or Congress will pass the new legislation. He also stated that both political parties have been at a standstill since 2006.
People in Virginia might be surprised to learn that over the past three years, the number of large-truck-occupant fatalities has been increasing steadily according to the Chief Safety Officer of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety. He also points out that there has been a steady rise in both the percentage of fatal work zone crashes involving one large truck at the least and the rate of all fatal crashes involving one large truck over the same period.
Every year, the National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB, releases its Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements. This year, the list contains 10 different items with the majority relating to truckers and the transportation industry. If implemented, these safety improvements could make a major impact on Virginia roadways.
Between 2009 and 2017, 35,882 people were killed in accidents involving large trucks, according to Road Safe America. One of the group's founders said that deaths could be prevented in Virginia and throughout the country via the use of speed limiting and automatic braking tools. States that have the highest number of fatalities between 2009 and 2016 also tend to have higher speed limits on their highways.
Staying safe around large trucks is essential. Virginia residents should know that in 2016, there were 3,986 large truck crash fatalities and that 66 percent of these were occupants of passenger vehicles. One expert from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance says that 70 percent of all collisions between trucks and cars are caused by the latter.
Virginia residents should be aware of a push to get lawmakers to pass legislation protecting car occupants from underride crashes. The legislation is aimed at requiring all trucks to have guards on their sides and fronts to prevent vehicles from sliding under them. Currently, underride guards are only required on the backs of trucks. The bill being discussed by federal lawmakers would also require that annual truck inspection include these guards to ensure they are properly attached and in good condition. However, the legislation has not moved forward since it was introduced and is not expected to be discussed again until early 2019.
All drivers in Virginia have good reason to be concerned about truck driver fatigue. When exhausted drivers take the wheel of large commercial trucks, the results can be devastating and even deadly. Because semi trucks have such significant mass and weight, they can cause severe injuries to people in other vehicles in the event of a crash. In addition, the nature of truck driving can lead to exhaustion; drivers often work for long hours, moving over monotonous highways with unchanging scenery.
Virginia drivers may be somewhat safer on the roads than they were in 2015 and 2016, but this may not necessarily hold true if they are in or sharing the road with semi trucks. On Oct. 3, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released figures from its Fatality Analysis Reporting System. After an increase in fatalities in 2015 and 2016, there was a decline in 2017, and this trend appears to be holding based on preliminary figures from the first half of 2018. However, fatalities involving larger vehicles are on the rise.
Virginia drivers have been enjoying collision avoidance technology on their vehicles for years. Studies have shown these advanced safety systems reduce motor vehicle accidents and save lives. However, semis and other large trucks are not required to have these technologies, according to a report by The Kansas City Star.