Truckers and truck fleet owners in California are divided on the current push to relax federal truck safety rules. Support for more relaxed regulations began to build up in December 2017 when the federal government mandated the use of electronic logging devices on all large commercial trucks. The need to count hours and minutes and the rigid enforcement of hours-of-service guidelines are, for some, the unhappy result of this mandate.
Accidents involving large trucks are likely to be more severe than other traffic crashes. While the average passenger vehicle in California weighs around 4,000 pounds, a semi truck could weigh as much as 20 times more. The most common reasons behind truck crashes are driver error, equipment failure and poor truck maintenance.
The Alliance for Driver Safety & Security has compiled data on the pre-employment drug tests of commercial truck drivers in California and the rest of the U.S., finding that many truckers who are habitual drug users are being accepted. This data is based on a survey of 3.5 million CMV drivers. In all, 301,000 truck drivers on the road today would fail if subjected to a hair analysis.
The behavior of commercial vehicle drivers in California and other states can have a big impact on how safe the roads are for other motorists and truck drivers. This is why a fleet management systems provider has reviewed driving behaviors of more than 6,000 of its fleet customers. It focused on small and midsize businesses with 2 to 200 trucks.
A crash with a big rig on a California highway can produce serious injuries among passenger vehicle occupants. The sheer size and weight of commercial trucks increase the force of impact. Although truck accident victims might apply the same personal injury laws to collect damages as car accident victims, the cases possess greater complexity.
In July, law enforcement officers in California and across the U.S. will be participating in Operation Safe Driver Week. During the event, which is sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, participating officers will target commercial and passenger vehicle drivers who are engaging in dangerous behaviors, including speeding.
On Jan. 28, Road Safe America released a sobering new report showing that large truck crashes have increased in California and most other states over the last eight years. In response to its findings, the organization is renewing its call for the mandatory use of speed limiters and automatic emergency braking systems by the trucking industry.
There are roughly 100 deaths per day on the roadways throughout California and the rest of the country. According to the Road to Zero Coalition, all of these deaths are preventable. That's why the coalition has set a goal of eliminating all traffic deaths by the year 2050. The CEO of the National Safety Council understands that the target date may be ambitious. However, she pointed out that sending a man to the moon seemed like an ambitious goal as well 50 years ago.
The U.S. DoT recorded 3,986 large truck crash fatalities in 2016 through its Fatality Analysis Reporting System. When compared to FARS data in 2009, this represents a 27 percent jump in fatalities. Considering the great weight of commercial trucks, it's no surprise that 66 percent of those fatalities were passenger vehicle occupants.
Truck drivers in California may be aware of the rising number of accidents in their industry. Too many truckers are engaging in bad driving habits, including speeding, driving drowsy and talking on the phone while behind the wheel. Some even feel urged to be negligent because of the incentives they receive with every load delivered.