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.
More so than car accidents, truck accidents can complicate the process of determining liability. Oklahoma residents should know that there are several reasons for this, the first being that truck accidents are more likely to end in serious injuries or death. Trucks weigh more, take longer to stop and take up more space.
Truck crashes are on the rise in Oklahoma and across the U.S. The ones who are being most impacted by the trend are not truckers, however, but occupants of passenger vehicles. They make up 72% of deaths in truck crashes, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. In the effort to reduce truck crashes, some trucking companies are turning more to vehicle safety devices.
Oklahoma drivers might want to avoid the Highway 23 bypass in North Dakota. The roadway, coined the New Town Truck Reliever Route, has been the site of at least two deadly truck accidents since it was constructed in 2014.
Oklahoma truck accidents can be particularly frightening. The impact of an 18-wheeler impact can be devastating, and people in smaller vehicles are far more likely to suffer severe injuries or even fatalities as a result of a crash. Due to the threat posed by truck collisions to roadway safety, a number of safety advocates are urging greater regulations. Proposed legislation would require all large trucks to use speed limiters and automatic emergency brake systems.
The Chief Safety Officer of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration addressed truck drivers in Oregon and across the country at the annual 2019 Transportation Research Board meeting. During the meeting, he delivered the most recent crash statistics available. According to statistics, the number of deaths in large-truck-occupant crashes increased each year from 2015 to 2017. Additionally, the number of fatalities involving large trucks increased.
Truck fleet owners and truck drivers in Oklahoma may want to know about the Large Truck Crash Causation Study that was released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. After analyzing the data behind 120,000 fatal truck crashes that occurred within a 33-month period, researchers found that truckers were to blame for 68,000 of them.
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.