The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s classification of large trucks is a vehicle having a weight rating of over 10,000 pounds. Whether a driver is operating a tractor-trailer or a 15-seat van, they must have the skills and experience necessary to travel safely and monitor and eliminate any risks that could lead to injuries or deaths.
Strategies to stop crashes
In 1975, the collection of fatal crash data involving commercial trucks began, courtesy of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Since that time, trucking accidents and the miles drivers have traveled decreased. Truck occupants accounted for 916 deaths compared to 2,757 fatalities for smaller vehicle drivers and passengers per 81,330 truck miles. Fast forward to today, where 863 and 3,797 lives were lost per 297,593 miles traveled, respectively.
Thirty percent of those fatal accidents and 12 percent of injuries occur in work zones where trucks are traveling. These accidents involving at least one truck have risen steadily over the years. Currently, the number is 28 percent. However, that number is likely to increase. Negligence by all large vehicle occupants is the common cause of these crashes.
One potential “cure” are regulations to reduce crash numbers. FMCSA currently restricts drivers to 14 hours on the road, along with mandated rest breaks during travels, provided the driver’s last haul was eight hours before getting behind the wheel. The enforcement of electronic stability control has revealed savings of 7,000 lives from 2011 to 2015.
While some see regulations as burdensome, implementing new rules and regulations has likely played a role in minimizing severe accidents and fatalities.