The National Transportation Safety Board has come out with its 2019-2020 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety, and six of the 10 items relate to trucks or truck drivers. The top item on the list is to eliminate distracted driving. The NTSB recommends that drivers not be allowed to use handheld electronic devices while driving in Illinois or any state. An exception would be made for those using a device to get directions.
As the number of large truck deaths continues to rise, the highway safety non-profit Road Safe America urges truck fleet owners in Illinois and across the U.S. to incorporate vehicle safety technology. One device they recommend is automatic emergency braking, which alerts drivers to stationary or slow-moving objects and applies the brakes when drivers do not react in time.
Illinois drivers have good reason to be cautious around large trucks. Commercial truck drivers can become drowsy and distracted behind the wheel, causing severe accidents. However, one expert says that 70 percent of all collisions between trucks and cars are caused by drivers of the latter. The U.S. DoT found that 66 percent of all large truck fatalities in 2016 were passenger vehicle occupants.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of large-truck fatalities reached a 29-year high in 2017. A total of 4,761 people, including about 1,300 truckers, were killed that year. In Illinois and across the U.S., truckers have expressed their opinions as to what might be behind the increase.
In a AAA survey, 88 percent of respondents said that they believe distracted driving is on the rise whereas a smaller percentage said the same for aggressive, drugged and drunk driving. Truck fleet owners in Illinois should know the dangers of distracted driving so that they can come up with effective ways to prevent accidents among their drivers.
In December 2017, truck drivers in Illinois and elsewhere were required to start using electronic logging devices (ELDs). Generally speaking, truck drivers tend to not like the requirement. In fact, some have complained that it makes their jobs more dangerous and reduces their pay. The electronic devices monitor a vehicle's engine to determine how many hours it has been driven in a given day. In the past, drivers had the option of using an ELD or logging their hours by hand.
Truckers in Illinois may remember the International Roadcheck that took place from June 5 to 7. Once a year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance holds this event across North America, stopping trucks, buses and other commercial vehicles at random for vehicle and driver inspections. Of the 67,502 inspections conducted this year, 45,400 were the comprehensive Level I inspections.
Long stretches of highway in Illinois can wear down any motorist, but commercial truck drivers often fight through their fatigue to meet delivery deadlines. Schedules and company incentives for early deliveries add to the pressure to ignore weariness and keep on trucking. Drowsy driving, however, impairs driving abilities in a manner similar to drinking alcohol. Tired drivers have slower reaction times, difficulty focusing on their surroundings and impaired judgment. A truck driver who completely falls asleep behind the wheel could cause a serious or even fatal crash.
When drivers in Illinois take to the roadways, one of the most frightening thoughts that come to mind could be the potential of a collision with an 18-wheeler or semitruck. Due to the size, weight and mass of these vehicles, a crash involving a large truck poses a severe risk to the safety and lives of others on the road. The hazard of a crash involving such a truck is escalated when these vehicles do not receive proper maintenance. For example, negligently maintained truck brakes could mean that the truck fails to stop in slippery conditions or an emergency situation.
Many people in Illinois and across the country worry about the danger of experiencing a crash or collision when they get behind the wheel and take to the roads. Even drivers who concentrate on safety cannot control the actions and behavior of others on the road, and accidents caused by others' negligent driving can lead to serious injuries and even fatalities. The concern can be particularly significant when it comes to trucking accidents because the size and mass of these vehicles might mean a devastating outcome for passenger car drivers, pedestrians and others.