For drivers in Pennsylvania, truckers with poorly maintained brakes present a real hazard on the road. The size, mass and weight of commercial trucks mean that when these vehicles crash, the effects can be particularly devastating. Of course, brakes that are negligently maintained present a serious threat because these trucks may be unable to stop properly, especially in slippery or rainy conditions or in an emergency situation. An out-of-control truck with nonfunctioning brakes can easily be the cause of a serious tragedy on the road.
A new report called the 2016 Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts shows that the number of commercial trucks involved in fatal crashes rose by 3 percent in the year in question. This was published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the agency that regulates the U.S. trucking industry. Truckers in Pennsylvania will therefore want to know more about this increase and what the FMCSA thinks is causing it.
Traffic fatalities may drop in the years ahead for Pennsylvania drivers if the efforts of one transportation safety coalition are successful. The 675 members of the Road to Zero Coalition hope to completely eliminate traffic deaths by the year 2050. In 2016, the number of traffic fatalities rose 5.6 percent from the previous year to 37,461.
Truckers in Pennsylvania often face grueling hours behind the wheel. They might work as many as 70 hours in eight days, and their weariness too often contributes to truck accidents. At least 100,000 crashes every year happen because truckers get sleepy. A new technology company founded by recent university graduates plans to help truckers with safety glasses that measure their blinks. The glasses would alert drivers when their blinking patterns indicate drowsiness.
The current hours of service regulations for truckers should be changed to allow drivers in Pennsylvania and around the country to split up their shifts with breaks lasting up to three hours. At least that's what the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association claims. The industry group has filed a petition requesting the change with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In addition, OOIDA is asking the federal agency to eliminate a 30-minute break that tractor-trailer drivers must currently take during their first eight hours on duty.
Pennsylvania drivers may be interested in learning that a measure that would require all trucks to have guardrails installed on their trailers went through Congress. Called the Stop Underrides Act of 2017, the measure would make underride guards, which are optional safety measures, legally required.
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.