Commercial trucking is vital to the economy providing from the long-haul and short-haul transport of goods across the nation. While most truckers and most commercial trucking companies are conscientious of the laws and regulations guiding their operations, other companies may attempt to cut corners to boost profitability. Some of the most serious safety issues facing the commercial trucking industry include fatigued drivers, ensuring that proper maintenance is performed routinely on all vehicles, and the use of impairing substances such as alcohol, prescription, and illegal drugs by drivers.
Each year the National Transportation Safety Board presents an array of “most wanted” items that the agency believes will enhance transportation safety and prevent injuries and save lives. While it is now 20 years on since NTSB first recommended technological solutions to safety concerns, this list contains an array of safety suggestions predicated on the use of advanced safety technologies.
For individuals in Fayetteville and all of northwest Arkansas, these safety suggestions for all transportation carriers, including commercial truckers, should be especially welcome due to the volume of freight truck traffic on area highways and roads. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law is happy to explain some of the initiatives that the federal government is taking to reduce the likelihood of a deadly highway crash involving a commercial vehicle.
Measure to Reduce Fatigue-Related Accidents
An inherent part of being human is that humans tired and fatigue after extended periods of wakefulness. Fatigue makes us react more slowly, impairs information processing, and can lead to ill-considered decisions. Some studies have found that high fatigue levels can produce observed behaviors similar to that of an intoxicated driver. Furthermore, under extreme fatigue conditions, the impulse to sleep may become so irresistible that the driver may not even realize that he or she has dozed off.
The problem presented by fatigued driving is a serious one. From 2001 to 2012, 20 percent of all major NTSB investigations involved a fatigued driver. Consider that a fatigued driver who did not realize that traffic was stopped ahead caused the accident that severely injured actor and comedian Tracy Morgan and killed comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair. Combatting fatigued commercial drivers will likely require a multi-faceted approach including training, identification and treatment of sleep disorders, hours-of service regulations, and technologies that can detect when a driver is fatigued or dozing.
Promotion of Collision Avoidance Technology on Commercial Trucks
Autonomous and collision avoidance technologies appear to be the wave of the future. Semi-autonomous vehicles like the Tesla are already available in the consumer market, Likewise, a number of collision avoidance technologies are also available for commercial use in the trucking industry. NTSB believes that widespread adoption of these technologies could provide for a failsafe when a driver makes a mistake and lead to a reduction in the thousands of vehicle crashes each year.
Tackle the Problem of Intoxicated Commercial Drivers & Distracted Drivers
While alcohol is a substance that humans have used for millennia, it simply has no place in the operation of a any vehicle, never mind a large 18-wheeler or other commercial truck. NTSB found that over the previous 15 years, one-third of all highway deaths involve an intoxicated driver. Unfortunately, despite successes in reducing intoxicated and buzzed driving, NTSB recognizes the new reality that illegal and prescription drugs are as large of a problem as alcohol. There have been a number of reports of commercial truck drivers using synthetic cannabinoids and other substances not currently tested for to evade drug testing regimens. NTSB is looking into these and other issues to protect other drivers.
Additionally, as technology has continued to advance, distractions that can take a driver’s eyes off of the road have steadily increased. Since 2003, NTSB states that it has identified the use of personal electronic devices in crashes in all modes of transportation. The agency is calling for a removal of distractions that could take a driver’s eyes and attention away from the roadway.
Injured by a Commercial Truck, Big-Rig, or 18-Wheeler in Arkansas?
If you or a loved one have suffered a serious injury due to a negligent commercial truck driver, Ken Kieklak may be able to fight for compensation for you. Likewise, if you experienced a wrongful death of a loved one by a commercial truck, we can fight to hold the responsible parties accountable. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a Fayetteville personal injury lawyer, contact us at (479) 316-0438 today or contact us online.