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.