States have been increasingly stepping in and adding their voice to the list of interested parties lobbying for increased safety in trucking. While individual states have different approaches, the end result is the same.
Today we will take a look at moves being made in both Washington state and Arizona that will buttress those state’s safety measures. In Washington, they are taking another look at side and rear guards in order to help prevent catastrophic crashes between lower clearance passenger cars and tractor trailers.
But what is in the law? Essentially, it would require side guards and better reinforced rear guards on all tractor trailers. According to Washington state’s research, these new regulations could save the lives of lots and lots of people.
An August test in the state by the Institute for Highway Safety shows that a technology called the “Angel Wing” could potentially be life-saving in these situations. In the test, a vehicle crashed into the back of a semi going 40 miles an hour and the Angel Wing prevented the car from sliding under the rig and ending in fatality.
What is unclear is if the bill is going to end up on the floor in the Washington legislature. It could also end up in a combination bill or be brought up again by itself in the coming weeks.
According to Washington officials, they want to make sure they “take our time to get this right considering the lives at stake. Still, not everyone is on board.
The Truck Trailer Manufacturer’s Association came out saying the the”Angel Wing” would add so much weight that trucking companies would either have to remove freight from the payload or add more trailers, which could potentially negate the safety impact in the first place.
Will Washington state put this rule into law? Furthermore, could we see other states follow their lead? At this state, only time will tell.
A Trip to the Southwest
Meanwhile, down in Arizona, the state is seeing success exporting its transportation safety program to neighboring states that may be in need of that type of course material. The Arizona Department of Transportation provides the course for commercial motor vehicle drivers.
Now, with the course in New Mexico, ADOT is doubling the number of sessions planned. According to ADOT Director John Halikowski, “Trade with Mexico is one way our highways are Key Commerce Corridors that drive Arizona’s economy. With the support of officials in Sonora, Mexico, we are expanding a program that’s boosting international commerce while ensuring that commercial vehicles are safe.”
Representatives from the Governor’s offices in both states were responsible for pushing the program, which teaches commercial motor vehicle operators what to expect during an inspection, how to communicate with inspectors using WhatsApp.
The program also allows qualified truck drivers to capture photos of potential safety problems. Participants who have gone through the program have spoken to its efficacy in preparing them for better safety on the road.
According to ADOT, the program works quite well, resulting in fewer border inspections over the past years. This, in turn, has led to more trucks on Arizona roads, a boon to the industry and the state, which has grown its economy in the meantime.
Will we see more states sharing their programs like this? As more programs come online and show success in both truck driver training, retention and overall fleet safety measures, it is likely we will see cross-pollination across states as we are seeing here.
Fortunately, these changes signal more innovation in trucking safety, which is good for all parties, from everyone else on the road to the fleets themselves. Which state will be next?