If you’ve noticed more big rigs on the road lately, you’re not alone. All across the country, we’ve become more reliant on trucks to deliver goods than ever before. But a truck driver shortage, combined with increased online sales and ever-looming delivery deadlines, has made the roads less safe for everyone.
To address a concerning increase in truck accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently held a two-day virtual meeting to discuss ways to improve truck safety. Transport Topics reported on this meeting, where members of the agency’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) focused on enhancing road safety in Atlanta and across the United States.
How has the trucking industry changed in the recent past?
The American trucker workforce currently exceeds 3.5 million drivers. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in 2020, there were 4,014 deaths from crashes involving large trucks, which is a nearly 25% increase since 2010. Considering the alarming increase in truck-related fatal crashes, the 25-member MCSAC emphasized the importance of taking a closer look at safety data and best practices in an attempt to reverse this deadly trend in the trucking industry.
How can improved trucker training and data tracking make for safer roads?
Improved training and data tracking will help regulatory agencies know if truck operators are properly certified and trained. Improvements to data tracking will disincentivize corner-cutting from trucking companies, who need drivers who are ready to fulfill their shipment obligations. Here are the discussion points from the MCSAC regarding this pressing issue:
Inadequate training/under experienced drivers: Many new truck drivers might not be receiving adequate training, and some may be untrained, operating under the radar by using fraudulent addresses. A recent study conducted by the National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence shows that truck driving experience is one of the most important factors in reducing the likelihood of accidents. This finding has important implications, especially considering the high turnover rate in the trucking industry. With constant training and evaluation of new hires, safety standards can become compromised, leading to potentially hazardous conditions on our Atlanta roads.
Under used electronic truck logging devices: The MCSAC also noted that a significant portion of truck drivers are failing to deploy electronic logging devices in their trucks. There may be a cause for this, as according to a recent article in The New York Times, truck driver monitoring systems feature key flaws as they primarily prioritize route efficiency and quick completion, rather than considering important factors like driver health, rest, or weather and road conditions. If a driver experiences difficulties sleeping during their scheduled rest period, the monitoring systems fail to account for their inadequate sleep quality, still expecting optimal road efficiency. While important safety data is transmitted through this system, safety also may be compromised through the over exertion of a driver as they strive to fulfill sometimes unrealistic driving goals.
In the MCSAC meeting, increasing the use of these monitoring systems was noted as a high priority. Upgraded and more effective driver monitoring systems that prioritize driver well-being and account for all relevant factors, ensuring a safer and more responsible approach to trucking operations can be a solution that helps all parties. By examining safety data and implementing effective best practices, the FMCSA hopes to make significant strides toward reducing all types of collisions, especially car accidents involving trucks.
Additional concerns about the trucking industry
There was more on the agenda for this two-day virtual meeting. The rest of the topics discuss dangerous behaviors, the causes that often stem from trucking companies, and how they treat their drivers.
During the meeting, it was revealed that 43% of commercial motor vehicle drivers and their passengers who died in fatal crashes were not wearing seat belts. Several members of the advisory group suggested a comprehensive analysis to determine the underlying reasons for noncompliance, which would be an ongoing process.
The committee also highlighted the need to analyze crash data differentiating between urban and rural areas, particularly focusing on the prevalence of crashes in rural regions. Understanding the reasons behind these disparities can aid in the development of targeted safety measures for specific geographical areas. As a largely rural state, Georgia would stand to benefit from this type of data.
There are steps being taken to improve truck safety on our Atlanta roads, but until solutions are created, danger remains. If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, get the experienced team of Atlanta truck accident attorneys from Harris Lowry Manton LLP on your side. Call or contact us today to get started.
Jed Manton is committed to representing individuals and business that have been harmed by the actions of others. With a solid track record, Jed has helped numerous clients who have been seriously injured or who have lost a loved one obtain justice, while holding the wrongdoer accountable.
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