Commercial truck drivers may be stopped at random for an inspection in North Carolina between June 4 and 6. These three days will encompass the 2019 International Roadcheck, an inspection spree held once a year by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. Inspectors will mostly conduct Level I inspections, which are the most comprehensive and cover both vehicle and operator compliance.
Fatal large truck crashes are increasing in North Carolina and the rest of the U.S. In 2017, 4,102 people died in large truck crashes, which is up 28 percent from 2009. The majority of these victims are car occupants, and many of the crashes are rear-end accidents. Truck safety groups say that if all heavy trucks were required to have forward crash warning and mitigation systems, thousands of these accidents could be prevented.
Every year, at least 300 people die in underride crashes. North Carolina residents should know that these crashes occur when a motor vehicle collides with a large truck and slides under it. In such crashes, the vehicle's safety features are rendered useless. These crashes usually end in head or neck injuries or, in some cases, decapitation.
Two studies have found that automatic emergency braking systems could prevent more than 2,500 tractor-trailer accidents in the U.S. each year, but a proposed Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulation that would mandate their use has been mired in Congress for 12 years. Lawmakers have also failed to implement a rule that would require commercial vehicle operators to use the speed limiting devices that are fitted to virtually all large trucks in North Carolina and across the country.
The sheer size of commercial trucks traveling the highways of North Carolina increases their destructiveness in a crash. People in passenger vehicles bear the brunt of impacts with big rigs. In accidents that involve a commercial truck and a passenger vehicle, the victims in the passenger vehicles represent up to 97 percent of fatalities. Survivors often must contend with disability, disfigurement, brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.
According to the latest data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the number of deadly crashes involving at least one truck has gone up each year from 2015 to 2017. In each of those years, large-truck-occupant fatalities rose as well. Though the FMCSA does not state that truckers are to blame for this trend, the data suggests that people who drive trucks in North Carolina and across the nation can do a few things to combat the problem.
The 2019-2020 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements released by the National Transportation Safety Board is composed of a total of 10 items, six of which concern the trucking industry. Truckers in North Carolina will want to know what the NTSB is recommending in its effort to improve traffic safety.
According to federal data, large truck crash deaths totaled 35,882 between 2009 to 2017. All but six states saw an increase in these deaths. At the same time, the number of miles driven by commercial truckers went down. North Carolina residents should know that speeding is considered a main factor in this increase. The non-profit Road Safe America is calling for certain steps to be taken to address this widespread issue.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, drivers not wearing their seat belts are a common cause of commercial vehicle fatalities. Roughly half of those deaths have occurred because drivers weren't wearing seat belts while driving on roads in North Carolina and other states. In 2017, there were 5,005 deaths in crashes involving trucks and buses. That was an increase from 3,193 in 2009.
The CEO of the National Safety Council has stated a commitment to the newly created Road to Zero Coalition, whose goal it is to reduce the number of traffic deaths to zero by the year 2050. Drivers, pedestrians and passengers on North Carolina roadways may notice the impact of the RSC on regulations and policies going forward. The RSC is made up of 675 members and recently released a Rand Corp. report outlining methods that might be used to reduce the number of traffic accident fatalities.