There has been a lot of news lately about the increasing number of tractor-trailer involved crashes. A recent New York Times editorial discusses the federal government’s slow response to cries for improved and increased classroom and behind-the-wheel training for truck drivers. For those of us driving passenger vehicles, the idea of involvement in an accident with one of these mammoth-sized vehicles is a scary prospect. And one which, statistics show, has an increased chance of leading to a fatality just based on the size and weight of the truck.
Two Kansas State University engineers, Sunanda Dissanayake and Siddhartha Kotikalapudi, are analyzing five years’ worth of truck-involved accident data. “In 2009 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recorded that one out of every 10 traffic fatalities in the U.S. was a result from collisions involving large trucks,” Dissanayake said. “When you consider that between 30,000 to 35,000 people die each year in all motor vehicle crashes, it’s a pretty significant issue.”
The most recent data supplied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that trucks account for four percent of the registered vehicles travelling our highway systems. In 2012 (most recent data available) tractor-trailers were involved in eight percent of traffic fatalities nationwide and another three percent of injury and property-damage crashes.
Who is protecting us and enforcing legislation ensuring tractor trailer drivers are following legally mandated licensure and safety requirements? The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a separate entity within the Department of Transportation and they are charged with reducing crashes, injuries and fatalities involving big rigs and buses.
To fulfill their mission, the FMCSA:
The FMCSA requirements are all encompassing and require compliance from states, law enforcement, industry, and individual drivers for our roadways to be kept safe. The states hold the brunt of the responsibility in oversight and enforcement, however, each stakeholder plays an important role in ensuring accurate reporting and overall adherence to regulations.
Among the policies stakeholders must fulfill are the following:
Again, these are just some of the measures in place to protect the public. What is missing, as pointed out so eloquently by the New York Times, is a required training component. Though there are many inputs necessary for drivers to attain and maintain licensure, initial instruction and ongoing training may serve to help reinforce safety measures for drivers.
In a previous Steinger, Iscoe & Greene post, we outlined ways in which passenger vehicle drivers could avoid accidents with 18-wheelers. Safe driving is everyone’s responsibility and we all have a role in making sure accidents are avoided when possible.
Just as the drivers of smaller vehicles are to watch out for big rigs, there are steps commercial drivers can take to decrease their chances of entanglements with the driving public.
Accidents with 18-wheelers are tragic and usually result in tremendous injury to the victims. Our work has put us in a unique position to see the end-results of horrific accidents; many of which could have been avoided if precautions had been taken. We also realize that even with intentionality as it relates to precautions, people can still get injured. If you have been in an accident and would like to get a confidential, expert case evaluation, we are just a phone call or a click away.
The Steinger, Iscoe & Greene family hopes that as you travel, you are guided by focus, consideration, and adherence to the rules of the road.