Thousands of big trucks cross Oklahoma every day. Passenger vehicles sharing space with these roadway giants are at an extreme disadvantage if there is a collision. Fully loaded transport trucks can legally weigh up to 80,000 pounds while small cars are just a fraction of that amount. Understanding the physical challenges truckers face when operating a tractor trailer can help motorists make safer decisions during their commutes.
Many commercial truckers in Oklahoma and across the U.S. have complained about a federal rule requiring them to take a 30-minute rest break after driving for eight consecutive hours. The thrust of the argument is that the break creates delays, forces truckers to speed in order to meet deadlines and gives rise to fatigue sooner in the shift.
Truck accidents can pose a major threat to motorists on the roads in Oklahoma. These crashes can be particularly dangerous if the truck driver involved is fatigued, distracted or otherwise impaired. Estimates indicate that up to 100,000 crashes each year are caused by drowsy driving. Many companies are looking for technological solutions that can reduce the risk of severe crashes.
In an ongoing effort to prevent roadway accidents, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance conducts its annual Brake Safety Week. This should help reassure Oklahoma drivers who often share the road with large, commercial trucks.
Motorists in Oklahoma and the rest of the country should be aware of Operation Safe Driver Week, which is being sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. The weeklong event, which is scheduled to begin on July 15, involves the participation of law enforcement officials who will be looking out for drivers of commercial and passenger vehicles engaged in unsafe driving.
News about fatal traffic accidents might feel normal to people in Oklahoma, but the CEO of the National Safety Council urges that people set high goals for roadway safety. She has advanced the goal of reducing traffic fatalities to zero by 2050. The council promotes a shift toward a culture of safety instead of accepting the inevitability of traffic deaths. Advances in safety technology have the potential to play a large role in improving vehicle safety, especially for large trucks.
Independent truck drivers in Oklahoma and around the country have voiced concerns about the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Electronic Logging Device mandate. The measure, which is scheduled to go into effect on Dec. 18, requires devices to be fitted to most commercial vehicles that log the amount of hours truck drivers spend behind the wheel. The FMCSA says that the mandate will reduce the number of hours of service violations and improve road safety, but truck drivers say that logging devices violate their privacy rights and allow the government to track them around the clock.
Trucking companies in Oklahoma and the rest of the U.S. should know about a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, which analyzed the medical and crash records of 49,464 commercial truck drivers and found a link between increased crash risk and the presence of certain health conditions. Investigators flagged 34 percent of the drivers as having a condition that may have contributed to their poor driving performance in the past.
After a possible rule on obstructive sleep apnea testing criteria for referral for truck drivers was tabled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, legislators in both the House and the Senate have introduced bills to push the FMCSA to establish the rule and administer it in Oklahoma and around the country. The lack of clear criteria has led to confusion about what criteria to use and concern over sleep apnea testing and treatment companies as well as doctors taking advantage of the uncertainty to make money.
For truck drivers in Oklahoma and around the country who receive their commercial driver's licenses on or after Feb. 7, 2020, a new training rule will be in place. The rule took effect on June 5, but it allows almost three years before compliance is necessary. It was delayed for five months by an ordered regulatory review from the Trump administration.