Nebraska residents may be aware that federal regulations restrict the amount of time that truck and bus drivers can spend behind the wheel. The regulations are in place to prevent accidents involving heavy commercial vehicles caused by fatigued drivers, but accident investigators have long complained that the paper logs that used by drivers to keep track of their hours can be easily falsified or altered.
As Nebraska motorists know, large commercial trucks take longer to stop due to the vehicle's payloads. Having good brakes that are maintained and inspected regularly helps. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and the U.S. Department of Transportation launched Operation Airbrake to bring brake safety to the forefront of keeping the highways safe. In 2014, roadside inspections of commercial vehicles showed brake-related violations about 46 percent of the time.
Comedian Tracy Morgan's frightening accident in 2014 that involved a fatigued truck driver has alerted many Nebraska drivers to the dangers of driving while not fully awake. What they may not know is that fatigue plays a major role in car accidents. It is estimated that 7,500 fatal crashes occur each year due to drowsy drivers. While the incidence of these crashes has increased, there are technologies becoming available that could reduce the number.
Jackknifing is an event that occurs when a truck and its trailer form an L or a V shape on the highway. In some cases, such an accident can lead to fatalities, but it may be possible to reduce the number of jackknife crashes. Typically, they occur due to a loss of traction due to wet or icy roadways or because the driver has not properly applied the brakes.
Semi-tractors pulling cargo tanks containing hazardous materials are a common sight on the highways of Nebraska, and the vast majority of them are able to complete their journeys without incident. However, when an accident involving one of these vehicles does take place, spills of gasoline, crude oil or flammable gas can greatly increase the dangers faced by area residents and road users. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, over 1,300 cargo tanker trucks are involved in rollover accidents each year around the country.
The economic, personal and social costs of truck accidents ensure continuing efforts to prevent them with education, enforcement and technological innovation. Drivers in Nebraska may soon see a number of new technologies designed for prevention, but one idea that has been developed by Samsung and tested in Argentina is unlikely to come into domestic use in the near future.
Nebraska motorists may have heard about a truck accident on May 19 in Georgia that claimed the lives of five individuals. Police believe the truck driver may have fallen asleep prior to the fatal wreck.
Nebraska drivers have most likely seen large trucks driving on the highway. For the most part, the trucks and their drivers get to their destinations safely. However, there were 3,912 people killed and 104,000 people injured in accidents involving such vehicles in 2012. This represents a 4 percent increase in fatalities since 2011 and an 18 percent increase in injuries since 2011.
In a development that could mean safer roads for Nebraska drivers, the federal government recently enacted a plan to cut bureaucratic red tape in the trucking industry, which will purportedly eliminate a key paperwork requirement for truck drivers. Effective Dec. 18, truck drivers are no longer required to submit pre- and post-trip vehicle inspection reports when vehicle inspections find no violations, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Drivers in Nebraska may be interested in knowing how safe a large truck may be on the highway. The definition of a large truck is any vehicle that is rated to weigh more than 10,000 pounds. In 2012, there was a 4 percent increase in fatalities involving large trucks and a 5 percent increase in fatalities for those occupying other vehicles involved in the crash.