Even as there are newer and faster methods of transport, the trucking industry is seeing monumental growth and remains the major means of moving goods state-to-state in the US. In fact, over 70% of goods are transported by trucks to their final destination. However, this growth in the trucking industry hasn’t come without challenges.
In the past couple of years, there has been a steady decrease in general motor accidents, especially passenger vehicles. But in contrast to this, highway accidents involving large freight trucks seem to be on the rise. Between 2017 and 2018, about 4,761 people were killed in large truck crashes and 1,300 of the fatalities were truckers. Now, what might be the reason for this?
Here is a look at the most common safety issues in the trucking industry.
Tough working conditions
In many occupations, workers are almost always in total control of what’s happening in their work environment—this isn’t the same with truck drivers. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. Driving is a very dangerous activity, and we have no control of what other drivers will do. This lack of control can be very challenging, to say the least.
And with the unrelenting increase in the demand for fast delivery of goods due to the explosion of e-commerce and online shopping, truck drivers have to drive longer hours — with little rest — to meet deadlines.
To ensure the safety of truckers and the entire public, federal hours-of-service regulations permit them to drive for up to 11 hours at a stretch. However, due to the pressure of meeting delivery deadlines, many truck drivers violate this regulation and go much longer than they should, inevitably increasing the risk of tragedies on the road. And over the past few years, highway fatalities involving heavy trucks have increased by 11.2%.
More often than not, fatigue is considered a normal physical state that anyone can brush off with a little bit of willpower. While this may seem powerful and inspiring, it really doesn’t work for drivers. Fatigue is known to lower concentration levels, cause mental and physical handicap and slow down response times by as much as 50%. Driver fatigue is a known crash risk and almost as dangerous as having alcohol in the system.
Some research studies have shown that staying awake for up to 17 hours is equivalent to a BAC of 0.05 and going 21 hours without sleep is equivalent to a BAC of 0.08, which is the legal limit in the US. Long hours on the road and very little sleep will take a toll on any driver, and when operating heavy machinery, this becomes even more dangerous.
Keeping your eyes and mind focused on the road while driving tremendously increases safety. A 2009 study revealed that 71 percent of large-truck crashes happened when the truck driver was distracted.
When an individual behind the wheels of an 80,000-pound truck decides to send a quick SMS or dial a number, this seamlessly harmless activity will only take about 4 seconds. During those “short” four seconds, a truck going 55 mph can cover the full length of a football field without noticing.
Driving a large vehicle, like an 18-wheeler, requires the operator’s constant and full attention. A truck driver simply cannot afford any form of distraction behind the wheel, whether the distraction is coming from within the vehicle or outside of it.
Studies by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, has shown that collisions with other vehicles in transport is the most common cause of fatal crashes involving big trucks.
It was recorded that 74% of fatal crashes involving big trucks are caused by collisions with passenger vehicles. Note that roughly 80% of all those crashes are caused by the passenger vehicle—not the trucker.
And in these large truck crashes, a whopping 97% of casualties and deaths are occupants of passenger vehicles. This doesn’t come as a surprise since some trucks weigh 30 times more than passenger vehicles. In a large percentage of semi crashes, smaller passenger cars find themselves crushed beneath the trailer or cab.
To tackle this issue, and reduce the number of disasters involving large trucks with passenger vehicles, there has been a proliferation of collision avoidance technologies which alerts a driver when their vehicle is at risk of colliding with another.
In the commercial trucking industry, and for passenger vehicles, there is already a Forward Collision Warning (FCW) system to alert drivers of a potential crash. But what happens when the danger comes from behind the truck? For this, Intellistop was developed.
Intellistop is a module that is attached to the nose box of tractor trailers and works to increase visibility of braking semis by pulsing (not flashing or blinking) the brake and marker lights 4 times in under 2 seconds. This gives trailing drivers more time to react and reduces accidents from rear-end collisions by up to 50%.
This module is easily installed in under 5 minutes and does not interfere with vehicle brakes or electronics. Intellistop is D.O.T-compliant in all 50 states and comes with a 5-year warranty against device fault or failure.
To speak with someone about how Intellistop can keep your fleet and drivers safer on the road, contact us here.