Truck driver fatigue can pose a real threat on the roadways to Pennsylvania drivers and passengers. Large trucks and buses carry inherent risks due to their mass, size, weight and speed. These risks can be multiplied if a truck driver is fatigued due to excessive driving and too many hours on the road.
Pennsylvania truck drivers may be interested to learn that equipping large commercial vehicles with video-enhanced safety technology could prevent up to 63,000 trucking accidents each year. A study from the AAA Foundation for Truck Safety showed that the benefits of installing this technology well outweighed the cost.
Pennsylvania truck drivers may be interested to learn that Congressional Democrats have urged the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to resume working on a rule that would provide screening criteria and treatment protocols for sleep apnea. The FMCSA announced that it had tabled the rule in August 2017.
In some cases, Pennsylvania drivers may feel uneasy on the roadways when they see semi-trucks with spike-like lug nut covers on the trucks' wheels. These ornamental spikes often extend well beyond the rims of the wheels, making some drivers nervous that they may damage their vehicles if they pass the truck too closely. Because there is some concern that these ornamental spikes can be dangerous, one state even passed legislation to ban them.
A recent study by the University of Utah School of Medicine indicates that the health of a truck driver may influence how likely it is that they will be involved in an accident. Researchers looked at the medical records of almost 50,000 commercial truck drivers and their crash histories.
In December 2016, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration sought public feedback and commentary on rules that it proposed as part of its Driver Distraction Guidelines. In the proposal, the agency sought to combat the fact that despite its prior efforts at education, many people continue creating hazardous road conditions by using their cellphones and other devices while driving. By asking cellphone manufacturers to help combat the problem, the NHTSA hopes to decrease the likelihood that motorists will get distracted this way.
Fatigued truck drivers are a leading cause of accidents involving big rigs in Pennsylvania and around the country. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration restricts the amount of time that truck drivers can be behind the wheel before taking a mandatory break, and the federal agency has been involved in a long-running legal battle with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association over the introduction of electronic logging devices to keep track of how long drivers spend behind the wheel.
Truck and bus drivers in Pennsylvania may soon have mandatory speed limiters installed on their vehicles. Proposed regulations that would mandate the installation of speed limiting devices on commercial vehicles are open for public comment.
Pennsylvania drivers may feel safer on the roads knowing that truck component companies ZF and WABCO are developing a rear-end collision avoidance system. The Evasive Maneuver Assist system offers more advanced active braking technology, making it easier for tractor-trailers to stop in time to avoid dangerous rear-end collisions. Rear-end collisions are a common type of trucking accident that usually occurs when a car stops suddenly and a truck behind it does not have the time to brake or change lanes.
As autonomous car technology continues to evolve, some are looking to a future that also involves driverless trucks. Industry veterans from Apple, Tesla and Google have joined forces to create a new company called Otto. It developed a product that took three normal Volvo VNL 780 trucks and turned them into vehicles capable of navigating a route on its own.