The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been proposing several steps that could help the trucking industry in Pennsylvania and the rest of the U.S. For instance, it has been fielding comments on the proposal to revise certain hours-of-service rules.
The thought of a commercial vehicle weighing 40 tons and traveling at highway speed with a fatigued driver behind the wheel is enough to alarm even the most placid motorist, but the results of a study published recently in the Journal of Community Health suggest that this happens every day in Pennsylvania and around the country. A team of researchers from Ball State University used data from the National Health Interview Survey to analyze the sleep patterns of 150,000 American workers, and they discovered that fatigue is alarmingly common in many key industries.
The Safe Roads Act of 2019 was presented for consideration by three members of the House of Representatives on July 16. If passed, it may prevent commercial truck accidents on highways throughout Pennsylvania and the rest of the nation. It would require that new commercial trucks come equipped with an automatic emergency braking system. That system would need to be activated whenever the vehicle was being operated. According to one of the legislation's sponsors, this type of system could be installed for as little as $500 per vehicle.
Truckers in Pennsylvania and elsewhere could soon be able to drive more hours each day, according to media reports. Apparently, the White House is considering a proposal to ease hours-of-service rules that are meant to prevent truck driver fatigue.
Statistics show that speeding contributes to most truck accidents in Pennsylvania and across the country. For example, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding played a role in 94% of all traffic accidents in 2015. The agency also says that excessive speed was a factor in 26% of all traffic-related deaths in 2017.
Truck, bus and other CMV drivers in Pennsylvania will want to keep the date June 4 in mind because it kicks off the three-day International Roadcheck. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance holds this annual inspection spree as a way to enforce federal CMV and driver regulations. The majority of inspections will be at Level I, which is the most comprehensive and covers both regulations.
Analyzing the years 2015 to 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that each of those years saw an increase in the percentage of fatal crashes that involved large trucks. Each of the three years also saw a rise in large truck occupant fatalities and in the percentage of fatal work zone crashes that involve large trucks. Trucker negligence may play a significant role in this trend both in Pennsylvania and in other states.
Road Safe America, a highway safety non-profit organization, is urging commercial truck fleet owners in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. to utilize vehicle safety technology like automatic emergency braking. This system, which alerts drivers to slow-moving or stationary objects and applies the brakes when drivers do not react in time, can help prevent crashes.
Pennsylvania drivers are encouraged to exercise extra caution when driving on the freeway during the winter months and especially during the busy holiday season. Recent statistics point to an added reason for this extra caution. There has been an increase in serious accidents that involve dump trucks as well as ready-mix concrete delivery trucks. This increase is seen as part of an ongoing problem that centers around bad driving habits.
A semi truck with failing brakes can pose a serious safety risk to other motorists on the Pennsylvania roadways. Despite the fact that brake maintenance is critical for trucks to safely navigate the roads, safety violations involving brake issues continue to top the list of problems found by inspectors. In an inspection blitz for Brake Safety Week sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), over 14 percent of all trucks inspected were taken off of the roads due to safety violations involving brake systems. The week, carried out in September 2018, marked the CVSA's latest effort to draw attention to brake maintenance issues.