Commercial trucks tend to be larger and harder to maneuver on the road. Therefore, passenger car motorists on North Carolina highways need to be careful when driving in close proximity to them. Even a small mistake such as not signaling when attempting to change lanes could result in an accident. Drivers of passenger vehicles should not drive behind or right beside a commercial truck.
Many of the commercial truck accidents that take place in North Carolina are the result of driver intoxication or distraction. Some may also be caused by truckers that have not taken adequate rest breaks. In early November, a truck driver who may have been intoxicated, distracted and in need of a rest break caused a fatal accident in Boise, Idaho.
In the coming years, the roads in North Carolina and throughout the U.S. could be more populated with self-driving vehicles for personal and commercial use. The American Transportation Research Institute recently released a report discussing changes that might occur in the trucking industry when autonomous trucks are available.
Following its annual three-day inspection blitz geared toward improving roadway safety in North Carolina and elsewhere around North America, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance reported that brake violations were the leading cause of vehicle out-of-service orders issued during the June 2016 Roadcheck event. Later, comparable results were reported during CVSA's Brake Safety Week, which was held in September 2016.
Twenty-eight states now allow the use of medical marijuana, and approximately 80 million Americans can legally enjoy recreational use of the drug following the Nov. 8 vote, according to the Associated Press. However, the Department of Transportation has indicated that in spite of these gains, marijuana use remains off limits for truck drivers who travel the roadways of North Carolina and other states across the nation.
North Carolina motorists who have heard about accidents caused by overworked and sleep-deprived truck drivers might be interested in learning that most commercial trucks will be mandated to have electronic logging devices installed in them. A challenge that was made to the regulation received an adverse ruling in late October 2016 from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.
The amount of time that professional truck drivers in North Carolina and around the country can spend behind the wheel before taking mandatory breaks is tightly controlled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. However, the federal safety agency sometimes grants exemptions to its strict hours-of-service rules. The Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association, which represents companies that transport large objects like cranes and earth-moving equipment, was recently granted an exception to one FMCSA regulation.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is considering proposals that might improve underride guards on semi trucks in North Carolina and across the United States. Underride guards make trucks safer by preventing motor vehicle crashes in which passenger cars roll under a semi truck, often causing the destruction of the passenger compartment.
Thousands of road users are seriously injured or killed each year in North Carolina and around the country in traffic accidents caused by fatigued motorists. This type of crash can be particularly dangerous when the tired driver is behind the wheel of a semi-tractor trailer. This is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed a rule that would require commercial truck drivers to be tested for obstructive sleep apnea.
Motorists who may be concerned about the safety of the commercial vehicles with which they share roadways in North Carolina and around the country may be interested in knowing more about Brake Safety Week, which runs annually each September. The 2016 dates for the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's Operation Airbrake program held in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are Sept. 11-17.