The last time the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration conducted a formal large-truck crash causation study was in the early 2000s. The report of that study was sent to Congress in 2006. Now, the FMCSA has plans to conduct another study. In a formal proposal made January 2020, the agency said it is gathering data on how the use of phones and on-board electronic systems has factored into truck crashes in North Carolina and across the U.S.
An expanding economy has created an increased need for commercial truck drivers in North Carolina and throughout the country. These drivers are often required to spend long hours on the road to meet their employer's needs. According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there was an increase in most types of large truck and bus accidents between 2016 and 2017. This data indicated that there was a 10% increase in the number of accidents that resulted in fatalities.
Commercial truck drivers have to keep track of many elements to travel the highways of North Carolina safely. Failure in any single area could lead to a crash. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration warns drivers about the top sources of truck accidents.
Jackknifing incidents are not uncommon here in North Carolina. Besides big rig operators, drivers who tow trailers or boats are in danger of jackknifing, especially if their load is rear-heavy. However, it is mostly truckers who need to consider the following tips for jackknifing prevention.
Truck accidents can cause serious damage to people in North Carolina and throughout the country. These crashes can be especially harmful to individuals in passenger vehicles due to the size and weight of large trucks. An 18-wheel truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, which is 20 times as much as a passenger car. There are several common causes of serious collisions involving trucks. Driver error is one such cause. Truckers, like all other drivers, make mistakes behind the wheel. Some kinds of errors are particularly dangerous for the truckers themselves. Truck drivers are limited to specific hours of service, but some face pressure to drive beyond those restrictions.
There were 4,102 large truck crash fatalities in 2017. This represents a 28% increase from 2009. Of those fatalities, 17% were truck occupants while 68% were occupants of passenger vehicles and 14% were pedestrians, cyclists and other road users. North Carolina motorists should know that this rise in fatalities has led many safety groups to advocate the use of collision avoidance technology.
If North Carolina drivers are like most Americans, they might feel a bit nervous sharing the road with commercial trucks. According to a recent survey by Verizon Connect, 67% of U.S. drivers believe that commercial truckers are more concerned with meeting their delivery schedule than with traffic safety. Meanwhile, 81% of drivers claim they've seen commercial truckers and other professional drivers speeding, improperly changing lanes, driving erratically, swerving off the road and taking turns too quickly.
Commercial truck drivers traveling the roads of North Carolina must comply with many federal safety regulations. Some trucking industry groups, like the American Trucking Association, support changes to existing rules, but they continue to face opposition. Bills circulating currently in the U.S. House and Senate could lower allowable ages for employment as long-haul truckers. In 2018, the Drive Safe Act failed to win congressional approval after the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association expressed concerns about inexperienced younger drivers.
Truckers in North Carolina know how prone they can be to drowsy driving. A Ball State University has looked at the percentage of working U.S. adults who get inadequate sleep and found an increase from 30.9% in 2010 to 35.6% in 2018. The study, which involved more than 150,000 working adults, was undertaken to find out which professions were most prone to sleep deprivation, and trucking was included among them.
Roadways throughout North Carolina and the rest of the nation are becoming safer. Each year, new technologies in vehicles lead to increased protections for drivers and passengers. However, concerns remain high regarding large semi-tractor trailers. This is because of the sheer size and mass of these vehicles. National Highway Safety Traffic Administration data shows that 4,761 people were killed in crashes that involved large trucks in 2017.