According to the latest data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were 4,311 large trucks and buses involved in fatal accidents in 2015. This is an 8 percent year-over-year increase. There were 88,000 large trucks involved in injury crashes.
Any collision with a large truck is a serious one for other drivers. Data reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows most fatalities in large trucks in 2016 were those in passenger vehicles, or 66 percent. Of the remaining deaths, 16 percent were pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists, while only 17 percent were the truck occupants.
Trucking accidents are bad for business, they’re bad for your employees, they’re bad for other vehicle passengers, and they’re bad for your reputation. Using technology while driving, driver fatigue, distracted driving and improper vehicle maintenance are all causes of large truck accidents. Here are ways trucking company owners can prevent large truck accidents to keep their employees and those sharing the road with them safe.
Follow Legal Regulations for Drivers and Trucks
An essential recommendation courtesy of an 18 wheeler accident attorney is to follow all FMCSA regulations, which include commercial registration and licensing. As well, trucking companies should adhere to all Truck Size and Weight regulations set forth by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. The FMCSA reports one of the most significant critical events causing trucking accidents is loss of vehicle control, which can result from not following regulations.
Improper maintenance of large trucks can result in deadly accidents. Safety equipment, electrical wiring, brakes and other vehicle functionality should all be checked before a driver goes out on the road.
Implement Proper Training
FMCSA research shows that the driver is the most prevalent factor in large truck accidents. Common factors that cause driver impairment that can lead to trucking accidents include:
- Non-performance: The driver stops driving consciously due to falling asleep, becoming disabled due to a heart attack or seizure, or becoming physically impaired for another reason.
- Recognition: The driver is distracted, is inattentive, or fails to observe a critical factor on the road.
- Decision: The driver makes a poor driving decision, including speeding, misjudging the speed of other vehicles, or following vehicles too closely.
- Performance: Driver reacts poorly to conditions; panicking, improperly steering, overcompensating.
Proper training is critical to avoid these factors. Additionally, thorough hiring practices should be implemented to avoid employing a driver with a poor driving record or hiring a driver who is not competent.
Always Prioritize Safety
Because trucking is a business, it’s often a company goal to make the most deliveries possible, as quickly as possible. However, driver rest should never be sacrificed in order to increase deliveries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports commercial truck drivers make up one of the most prevalent groups of drivers who are most likely to drive while drowsy. Drowsy driving decreases attention span, slows reaction time, and negatively impacts decision-making. Driver fatigue is a high-risk accident factor, and trucking companies have a legal responsibility to implement resting regulations for drivers.
Trucking companies should also train drivers to stay safe no matter what the road conditions are. There should be guidelines about driving in inclement weather, which should include examples of situations in which driving should altogether be avoided. Making a delivery on time should never be prioritized over keeping truck drivers and other road passengers safe.
Make Trucking Communications Safer
Distracted driving risks rise as the use of technology like smartphones while driving becomes more prevalent. The Federal Communications Commission reports 47 states ban texting while driving, and 15 states ban drivers from smartphone use. FMCSA regulations restrict mobile phone use for truck drivers overall, including banning texting for all commercial drivers while driving.
In addition to creating safer communications methods in trucks for drivers, create safety guidelines that instruct drivers to pull over and stop if they need to contact someone. Other distracted driving factors, like listening to music or talking with a passenger in the car, should be discouraged.
Revisit Safety Guidelines Regularly & Always Improve
One-and-done training doesn’t work in the trucking industry. Threats on the road are constantly evolving, and it’s the business owner’s duty to keep employees and other citizens safe.
To help prevent these large truck accidents be sure to continually go over safety procedures with your staff, conduct random driving evaluations, implement drug testing for drivers, and gather feedback from employees on how safety practices can be improved. Making safety your top concern protects all parties involved!