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Westlake Trucking Accidents Blog

What you need to know about large trucks in the winter

It is almost impossible to drive down the highway and not see a large truck or semi. Most people know that sharing the road with semis can prove dangerous on a normal day. What about in the snow?

A U.S. Department of Transportation report shows that snow significantly increases the chances of an accident with a large truck or bus. What are the biggest hazards about sharing the road with a big rig while it is snowing? What tips can you use to help you stay safe in the upcoming winter weather?

NTSB and others call for mandatory crash avoidance tech on trucks

While some trucking companies in Ohio have installed crash avoidance technology in their fleets, many have not. These businesses should know that some groups are pushing for the mandating of such technology on all commercial trucks. This action is being supported by several members of Congress.

The National Transportation Safety Board has been the most prominent advocate of this step. On at least 10 occasions since the 1990s, the NTSB has recommended that all heavy trucks be required to have forward crash avoidance and mitigation systems. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reportedly failed to act on the recommendations.

NHTSA finds increase in fatal large truck crashes in 2017

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported on traffic crash trends in 2017, and some of its findings may be of interest to Ohio drivers. There seems to be good reason to be uneasy driving around large trucks: 2017 saw a 9 percent increase in fatal large truck crashes whereas all other types of motor vehicle crashes saw a decrease in fatalities.

Specifically, there was an increase from 4,369 to 4,761 deaths in large truck crashes. Multi-vehicle crashes involving large trucks went up 8.8 percent. While passenger vehicle occupants made up 7.6 percent more of the fatalities in 2017, large truck occupants made up a startling 16 percent more of the fatalities.

How to share the road with big rigs

Ohio residents know that sharing the road with big rigs can be difficult to do. Large trucks can sway into other lanes, swing wide when making turns and take much longer than vehicles to come to a stop. Cars that rear-end trucks can slide under, while trucks that rear-end cars can ride over them. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 68 percent of all truck crash fatalities in 2014 were car occupants.

In addition, trucks have numerous "no-zones" or blind spots. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration states that one-third of all crashes involving cars and trucks take place in these no-zones. Cars are also liable to be splashed by water, mud and snow when driving around trucks in bad weather, obscuring vision and increasing the risk for accidents.

Maintaining truck brakes in the wake of Brake Safety Week

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance has already conducted its brake inspection spree for the year, but commercial truck drivers in Ohio should not feel that they can now neglect their brakes. The fleet tracking and management systems company Teletrac Navman offers some tips to truck drivers and fleet owners on how they can maintain brake safety.

The CVSA has its own Brake Inspection Checklist, and it could be worthwhile for truckers to take this list and conduct a 10- to 15-minute vehicle inspection. They can look for damaged or missing components, cracks on linings and pads, cracked brake drums and wear on camshaft lobes. All issues should be logged into a Driver-Vehicle Inspection Report. Fleet managers should be informed of the issues.

Dangerous times of the day to be driving behind a truck

The first instinct of most Ohio drivers when a truck is in front of them in their lane is to find a way to pass it. Trucks tend to be slower than your average motor vehicle, and if it comes an abrupt halt, your car could receive significant damages while the trucker’s barely receives a dent. Unfortunately, busy highways are not generous with the availability of open lanes you would need to pass the large vehicle in front of you.

With the fall approaching and the weather and amount of sunshine we get changing with the season, it is important that you are aware of dangerous moments during the day where you should try to avoid driving behind a truck. The circumstances these moments bring could increase the likelihood of an accident, and you want to be as far away from these as you can.

Trucks taken off the road due to brake violations

Ohio motorists have good reason to be worried about truck crashes. When a motor vehicle accident involves a large semi truck, occupants of other vehicles are at a heightened risk of serious injuries. When trucks are unsafe, it can make them difficult to control and lead to devastating results. This is one reason why the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance runs the International Roadcheck program, a series ofinspections that seek to discover safety problems in commercial trucks on North American roads. Over the summer, almost 12,000 trucks and buses were taken out of service due to safety violations discovered in these types of CVSA inspections.

During the campaign, 11,897 large vehicles and 2,664 drivers were taken off the road due to safety problems; they were detected amid 67,502 inspections carried out over a three-day period. Of these, 45,400 were Level I inspections. Of the trucks subject to a Level I inspection, over one-fifth were removed from service. While the focus of the inspections was on hours of service violations, only a small number of drivers were cited for violating these regulations. However, 28.4 percent of the problems found concerned trucks' braking systems, essential to avoiding severe truck accidents.

Speeding and careless operation among CMV drivers

Commercial motor vehicle drivers in Ohio, as in any other state, are held to a higher safety standard than noncommercial drivers. The first requirement is for drivers to have a commercial driver's license; trucking companies cannot under any circumstances hire a disqualified CDL driver. Those who exhibit consistently unsafe driving behaviors also cannot be employed.

These unsafe behaviors range from hard braking to speeding and careless operations. Though speed limits vary from state to state, it is a violation of federal law for CMV drivers to drive 15 mph over them. Driving too fast in bad weather is another violation.

FMCSA seeks comments on proposed HOS rule changes

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking in August, which details various changes that it may make to commercial truck drivers' hours-of-service rules. The FMCSA is seeking input up until Sept. 24 before it decides whether or not to implement these changes, so truckers and fleet owners in Ohio will want to follow the developments closely.

The following are the proposed rule changes. First, the agency may change the 100 air-mile exemption for short-haul drivers from 14 on-duty hours to 12 to be consistent with the requirements for long-haul drivers. It may also allow drivers up to two hours over the 14-hour on-duty limitation when faced with bad driving conditions.

Study shows advanced safety technologies on trucks save lives

Large truck accidents are increasing in Ohio and the rest of the United States. Statistics show that there were over 400,000 crashes involving large trucks in 2015. These accidents led to 4,000 deaths and 116,000 injuries, which represents a 4 percent increase from 2014.

However, a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that equipping tractor-trailers and other large trucks with advanced safety technologies could prevent as many as 77,000 truck accidents every year. These technologies include air disc brakes, automatic braking systems, lane departure systems and video-based onboard safety monitoring systems. Of those technologies, video-based monitors show the most promise. AAA analysts estimated that the technology could prevent up to 63,000 truck crashes, 17,733 injuries and 293 deaths each year. Air disc brakes, automatic braking systems and lane departure warning systems could prevent an additional 14,077 crashes, 5,542 injuries and 207 deaths each year combined.

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