Motorists in Oklahoma who share the highways with commercial vehicles often risk their lives. A big rig or dump trucks weighs approximately 30 times more than a passenger vehicle and is an even more severe threat when hauling hazardous cargo. When these massive vehicles are loaded with industrial waste, gasoline or other flammable or dangerous cargo, ensuing truck accidents can have catastrophic consequences.
Tractor-trailers are known as the backbone of the United States economy. These massive vehicles are used to ship goods and merchandise across the country. The interstates and highways that cross the state of Oklahoma are heavily utilized by these big rigs. For those in passenger vehicles, traveling close to tractor-trailers can be very intimidating. Due to their massive size, truck accidents are more likely to be serious or fatal.
Oklahoma residents should know that currently, truck drivers under the age of 21 cannot travel interstate. This may change if a certain bill, called the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act, is passed. Also known as the DRIVE-Safe Act, it was introduced in February 2019 and aims to create an apprenticeship program for the training of truckers under 21.
Oklahoma truck drivers likely want to know that the annual International Roadcheck inspection blitz performed by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance has been announced. The inspection is usually held during the first week in June. However, this year it is scheduled for May 5-7.
Oklahoma drivers who use a hands-free cell phone might be more likely to engage in other risky behavior as well. According to a study by the company Lytx, drivers often used their hands in these cases to engage in another distracting behavior in addition to talking on the phone, such as eating.
Jackknifing can occur not only in big rigs but also with cars towing trailers and boats. However, truckers in Oklahoma have to watch out the most. Though there is anti-jackknife technology out there, truckers should still make themselves familiar with the following tips for preventing such an accident.
Truck crashes in Oklahoma and across the country continue to lead to deadly results. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, truckers are dying behind the wheel at the greatest level in 30 years. This also means that others on the road face an even greater threat, given that most injuries in commercial trucking crashes involve smaller passenger vehicles. In 2018, 885 drivers or passengers in large trucks lost their lives in collisions, the highest number since 1988, when 911 died.
Trucking companies in Oklahoma and around the country are finding it difficult to hire enough long-haul drivers, but that may change soon if legislation being considered by the House of Representatives and the Senate is passed. The bills would allow drivers between the age of 18 and 20 to drive tractor-trailers across state lines after they have logged 400 or more hours of training. The proposition failed to gain traction in Congress in 2018 due to opposition from groups including the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association.
Oklahoma residents should know that an incident has led some trucking industry professionals to re-think certain safety protocols. In April 2019, a long-haul trucker driving on a downhill grade in Lakewood, Colorado, caused a 28-car crash when the brakes on his vehicle failed. It turns out that 30 violations were reported to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration over the course of 19 inspections conducted in the previous two years. Some of those violations were brake related.
Truck driver fatigue is a major problem on highways in Oklahoma and throughout the United States. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration statistics indicate that there were 4,237 fatal accidents involving large trucks in 2017, which is 10% more than the previous year. Of those fatal crashes, 60 involved truckers who were either fatigued or asleep while behind the wheel of their big rig. Despite this, the Associated Press reports that the federal government is planning to relax hours-of-service rules for truckers, potentially making it easier for them to drive longer hours.