What Can Be Done to Make Driving Commercial Trucks Safer?
Every day, products and services are hauled across the country. While the trucking industry is a benefit to the nation’s economy, the vehicles themselves can create deadly situations. When tractor-trailers compete with cars, SUVs, pickups, and motorcycles for space on the road, it’s possible for those in smaller vehicles to get seriously hurt. Thousands of individuals are fatally injured every year in truck accidents.
The majority of big rig crashes are entirely preventable because most are the result of human error. There are steps that truckers and trucking companies can take to reduce the number of crashes. But hesitation is likely because many of the steps involve time and monetary investments; however, our lawyers understand that your loved one’s lives are worth more.
The Importance of Proper Hiring Procedures and Training
The hiring and training policies companies implement have an impact on the likelihood that their drivers will get into an accident. If a company is neglectful when it comes to hiring or training new employees or keeping current employees up-to-date with safety information and certifications, they are putting the lives of others at risk.
When hiring a driver, there are a number of factors an employer needs to consider. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT), truck drivers need to be able to do the following:
- Steer, control, and turn a 24-inch steering wheel
- Use multi-dashboards, knobs, and switches
- Monitor side mirrors to back up a truck to a loading dock and be aware of blind spots and the vehicles traveling around them
- Manually shift more than 20 gears repetitively, which requires leg coordination
- Couple and uncouple trailers, which requires physical strength to raise and lower the trailer support, electrical cables, and airline connections
- Properly enter and exit the vehicle
- Determine correct load balance
If, when hiring, it’s made known that one or more of these tasks cannot be completed and the company hires the person anyway, the employer is responsible for ensuring the new employee receives the training they need to be proficient at all the necessary tasks.
Following Commercial Vehicle Regulations
There are federal and state commercial motor vehicle regulations in place to ensure the safety of all travelers. How long truckers can be on the road and how much weight a commercial vehicle can carry are among the most important laws that trucking companies and their employees need to abide by.
Truckers are generally on the road for long periods of time. When people drive for hours and hours without resting or sleeping, fatigue can set in. In some cases, a drowsy driver can be just as dangerous as a drunk driver. Because truck drivers are on tight schedules for their deliveries, they may decide to forgo rest in hopes of making an earlier delivery. Because this is so dangerous, the FMCSA regulates how long a commercial truck driver can be on the road. If a driver is carrying property, they are allowed to drive for no more than 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Truckers cannot drive more than 60 hours in seven days or 70 hours in eight days.
How much a tractor-trailer can haul is also regulated. If a truck is carrying too much weight, the risk of getting into a wreck is higher because the driver’s likely to have less control. Big rigs that are too heavy also damage roadways. Unlike service hours, how much a truck can haul is controlled at the state level. While permits can be obtained to haul more weight, in Kentucky the average commercial vehicle cannot weigh more than 80,000 pounds, according to the Commonwealth of Kentucky website.
Investing in Safety Innovations
As innovations like forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking reduce the number of collisions between passenger vehicles, there are new safety technologies being developed for commercial trucks. Devices and systems like onboard electronic logging, electronic stability control, collision-mitigation systems, and blind spot detection have the potential to significantly reduce crash rates.
While it may seem like making driving commercial trucks safer isn’t incredibly complicated, trucking companies often neglect to make changes because they either feel what they’re doing is working, or they’re not willing to invest the money. As a result, preventable truck accidents continue to happen. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed because of the negligent actions of another, you can take legal action. Our attorneys are dedicated to helping crash victims recover and move forward. To learn more about your legal rights and options, reach out to our firm today.
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