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Your November Holiday Safety Update

With millions of people set to hit the nation’s roads during a busy holiday season, safe driving practices are never more necessary, and that goes for both passenger car operators and truck drivers.

The high volume of vehicle traffic on the road during the holidays creates a complex problem for those on the road, from increased congestion to a major reduction in overall speed.

Safe Holiday Travel Tips

This high volume of road traffic makes safe driving measures more important than ever, especially as individuals make their way across the nation to see loved ones. One trucking safety advocacy group has even come out with an Instructional Video that spreads trucking safety messages to motorists.

The eight-minute video features professional truck drivers and provides a comprehensive look at different safe-driving habits that directly impact truckers. Fortunately, the video has already been seen by hundreds of thousands of viewers.

Every trucking safety advocacy group will tell you their goal is to ensure the safest highways possible, and considering the trucking industry invests billions in safety technologies, the last thing they want is for that investment to be in vain.

The following safe driving tips apply to both professional truck drivers and anyone else sharing the road with them this holiday season.

  • Make sure to buckle your safety belt.
  • Ensure maximum visibility by removing snow and ice from your vehicle before hitting the road.
  • Drive slower than necessary, especially in cold, windy, icy or snowy conditions.
  • Remember that when you drive faster than surrounding traffic, you triple your chances of winding up in a collision.
  • Always be mindful of your blind spots, whether you are driving a passenger car or heavy-duty commercial motor vehicle.
  • Stay focused on the road, as distracted driving is one of the major reasons for road accidents today.
  • Avoid cutting people off, especially large trucks.
  • Always check your vehicle to ensure wipers, fluids, and other critical maintenance items are all in working order before you get in and turn the key.

You also want to make sure you are getting plenty of rest and staying hydrated. Spending long hours in a vehicle can be more taxing on your system than you may expect. Be prepared by preparing ahead of time.

Volvo Doubles Down on Safety

In the world of trucking industry safety advocacy, Volvo Truck’s Traffic and Product Director Carl Johan Almqvist recently presented at the American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition. During his presentation, Almqvist stressed a common-sense approach to tackling trucking’s most vexing safety dilemmas.

“Every year, about 1.2 million people are killed in road traffic accidents worldwide. That’s the equivalent in lives lost to having 10 airliners crash every day. If that were to happen, we would ground all airplanes,” he said.

He went on to point to the fact that we should never be okay with a feeling of complacence, or persistent thought that “it will never happen to me.” He stressed that even one highway fatality is one too many, and noted that Volvo’s vision is to produce trucks that can lay claim to zero accidents.

He also outlined a 2017 report that found the most important focus areas for increased safety in trucking. They included:

  • More seat belt use;
  • Better truck driver awareness;
  • Better visibility both inside and outside the cab;
  • Direct feedback coaching and training initiatives, and;
  • Active safety system development.

The fact is, the trucking industry can still do much more to improve safety outcomes both on and off the road. It is good to see manufacturers getting in on the action. All players within the trucking industry have a stake in seeing improved safety on our nation’s roads.

So, as you set out this holiday season, please take greater care on the roads. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

The NTSB Makes New Recommendations

There is a lot going on in the world of safety-in-trucking and we are right here ready to report on all of it for you, our loyal readers.

In our latest blog post, we wanted to cover in greater detail some of the new guidance released by the NTSB. Let’s dive in.

NTSB on Collision Avoidance Systems

According to a recent statement released by the director of the National Transportation Safety Board’s Office of Highway Safety, Rob Molloy, collision avoidance technology could dramatically improve the safety of both truck drivers and those on the road around them.

His comments came during a November 15 meeting of the NTSB designed to report on progress in addressing the NTSB’s 2017-2018 Most Wanted List. Released November of 2016, the List was created to identify the areas where safety improvements can make a large impact.

They outlined the following:

  • Aviation;
  • Highway;
  • Marine;
  • Pipeline;
  • Hazardous materials, and;
  • Rail.

The goal is to see safety improvements on each of those factors and across the various modes of transportation they utilize.

According to Molloy, the highest truck-related accidents the NTSB investigation uncovered happened when a truck doesn’t stop in time and hits vehicles in front of it. He then went on to site an incident where a truck that could have had safety equipment installed but didn’t crashed into a passenger car and killed the occupants.

What Else is on The List?

While the focus of Molloy’s comments were on collision avoidance systems, he also touched on other priorities on the Most Wanted List, which included:

  • The safe shipment of hazardous materials;
  • Reducing truck driver alcohol and drug impairment;
  • Requiring medical fitness certificates;
  • Finding ways to further decrease incidents of distracted driving;
  • Strengthen occupant protection inside the cab;
  • Expand the use of event-recording technology, and;
  • Improve intermodal oversight, specifically in the area of rail transit safety and loss of control in aviation.

The NTSB further goes on – in its list – to recommend that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) require all heavy-duty commercial motor vehicle operators to install video-event recorders. This recommendation will go a long way to providing actionable data both fleets and inspectors can use in real-time.

The agency wants access to actionable data that can be used to assess performance, safety measures, and other critical metrics and indicators.

The Black Box and Sleep Apnea

Another member of the NTSB’s review board, Bella Dinh-Zarr, stated that the agency does not “have the event data recorders in trucks that we have in many vehicles. It’s quite unpopular because people think it’s Big Brother. It’s a way to ensure truckers keep themselves safe, as well as everyone else on the road.”

What Dinh-Zarr was referring to were the devices known within the trucking industry as “black boxes.” These diminutive devices are essentially near-constant data recorders that track everything that happens with the vehicle. They can be used to find useful information in the event of a crash.

Finally, the NTSB issued a statement on sleep apnea, recommending that the FMCSA devise a program that will allow investigators to pinpoint truck drivers who may be at a greater risk for sleep apnea. It then recommends the FMCSA require that drivers who are singled out get a medical clearance certificate from a medical professional. Approved databases of such medical professionals are made available to fleet truck drivers.

So, what’s next? Well, the NTSB is an independent federal agency and its recommendations are the largest tool in its toolbox. Does this mean industry is forced to comply? No, but generally when the NTSB makes recommendations, the industry needles move.

Advanced Driver Assistance Safety Technologies Save Lives

Here is the plain truth: Advanced driver assistance systems could save the trucking industry millions of dollars, but more importantly they can help save thousands of lives. Yet, while the trucking industry increasingly embraces these technologies, there are still a lot of outliers that question their feasibility.

There is Room for Improvement

Can we do better? Certainly. In a 2015 study completed by the Boston Consulting Group, it was found that when driver assistance safety technologies are used, nearly 30 percent of crashes could be averted. When you consider that in 2015 there were over 4,300 large truck-related crashes where there was a fatality, that 30 percent suddenly becomes quite significant.

You can also factor in the whopping $2.4 billion in property damage and nearly $50 billion in societal harm. Even more disconcerting, up to 90 percent of those crashes can be attributed to human error. If a fleet can install a system to lower that number, everyone benefits.

There are several different types and categories of driver assistance safety technologies. They include:

  • Forward collision warning systems;
  • Collision mitigation systems;
  • Blind spot monitoring and alert systems;
  • Lane departure warning systems;
  • … and more!

To see these technologies make a significant impact in the annual accident rate, we will need to see widespread industry acceptance and adoption. Although technology companies are making huge progress in developing these systems, many trucking companies have yet to catch on to the trend. This is especially true for smaller fleets.

But why?

Follow the Money

As with just about anything else in this world, if you want an answer to a tough question, it’s best to follow the money. When it comes to advanced safety systems, fleets have one question: How will this pay me back?

Of course, it is easier for larger fleets to take the long view on advanced safety system return on investment. Larger fleets have the resources to step back and take a holistic look. Asking how an out-of-commission tractor factors in to down-time cost should be a factor in choosing to utilize advanced safety systems, but it is harder for smaller operations to come around to that view. The smaller the fleet, the longer the time it takes to recoup large investments in equipment or technology.

The problem is this: When a fleet decides to either forgo safety technologies or use cheap, untested versions, they are doing very little to lower their risk level and, if anything, may be raising it. If a truck driver relies on a poorly manufactured technology and it fails, that could increase the risk of an accident.

If there is one safety technology that is seeing an uptick in adoption – outside of ABS and electronic stability control, which is mandated in many instances – it is that of forward collision warning systems. Adaptive cruise control is also becoming more popular.

The best part? For fleets who have put the time, money and effort into investing in these technologies, the dividends are paying off in real-world ways. Schneider, as one example, reportedly eliminated 70 percent of the rear-end collisions they were reporting as a result of adopting collision mitigation systems. Even more astonishingly, the severity of crashes that did happen were reduced by a whopping 95 percent.

Still, there is a long way to go. Small fleets must be given a greater profit-motive for adopting these technologies. Furthermore, technologies such as lane departure and lane keeping systems, have yet to catch on in any real meaningful way.

Yet, as the economy continues to expand and the trucking industry puts more and more trucks on the road, we will have to reach a point where a critical mass of industry players, both large and small, see the benefit to advanced safety technologies and finally make the switch.

 

Advanced Safety Tech Recommendations Are Back In The Spotlight

Have you heard? The Alliance for Driver Safety & Security – better known within the industry as the Trucking Alliance – has come out stating that in order for fleets to qualify for membership, they must adopt what the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety calls “critical” to reducing crashes and fatalities.

The qualification standards surround four trucking-specific safety technologies:

  1. Lane Departure Warning Systems;
  2. Video Safety Systems;
  3. Automatic Emergency Brake Systems, and;
  4. Air Disc Brakes.

In their statement in support of these initiatives, the Trucking Alliance specifically mentioned situations wherein such technologies could make a significant difference were there a potential accident.

Lane departure warning systems reduce on-road crashes by helping to keep truck drivers in their lanes if they get drowsy or distracted. Technologies that utilize video and sensor systems are helpful for truck driver recruiting, training, retention, motivation, and so much more. They can also be used in real-time to alert the truck driver of potential safety situations.

Advanced sensors systems also alert truck drivers and technicians in situations where a mechanical failure is imminent. All of this combines to form a more effective level of safety for both truck driver, fleet, and every-day drivers on our nation’s highways.

While they are still not widespread in adoption, automatic emergency braking systems can detect when a tractor is in danger of hitting an object in front of it. If needed, the system can apply the appropriate amount of brake pressure independent of the truck driver. Air disc brakes play a similar safety role, by the simple fact that they are far superior to drum brakes.

In arguing their position on this, the Trucking Alliance’s Steve Williams stated that, “These technologies can make the highways safer for our drivers and the public and [that’s] why the Trucking Alliance carriers are installing them on new trucks. The AAA Foundation report shows how these automated technologies can help commercial drivers and motorists avoid accidents and return home safely to their families.”

One thing the AAA Foundation does highlight is that a good percentage of today’s modern fleets are already incorporating these technologies into their standard operating practices. Still, the Trucking Alliance is the first to make adoption of these technologies a requirement for entry into membership with the organization.

What Was in the Report

The AAA Foundation report took a careful look at these technologies and how they have made an impact on trucking safety measures. When the data is broken down, it isn’t hard to see why the Trucking Alliance felt this was a good time, and good issue, to take a stand on.

As an example, the report found that if automatic braking systems and air disc brakes together were installed on every truck, it would prevent:

  • Over 7,700 accidents;
  • 92 fatalities, and;
  • 4,200 injuries.

The report also took a look at the kind of different universally-installed on-board camera and sensor and lane departure systems were installed. Per the report, this change would prevent:

  • Over 69,300 large truck crashes;
  • 408 fatalities, and;
  • 24,105 injuries.

These are truly staggering numbers. Imagine the difference this would make in people’s lives. Of course, the AAA Foundation was overjoyed at this development, as can be seen in their statement in response to the move.

AAA president and CEO Marshall Doney was quoted as saying that, ““AAA applauds the Trucking Alliance for taking such an important step toward improving safety on U.S. roads. Adding key safety technologies to fleets is critical if we are to reverse the growing rate of crash deaths on our roadways.”

While no one expects these technologies to receive industry-wide adoption any time soon, every step closer and every new fleet that adopts one or all of them takes one step closer to better safety, which is good for everyone.

ATA Conference And Federal Safety Updates

The American Trucking Associations’ annual Management Conference and Exhibition at the Orange County Convention Center kicked off in late-October and there were a lot of announcements and new technologies to evaluate.

Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to know regarding the world of trucking and truck driver safety and safety technology.

Truck Driver Wellness

A truck driver wellness app was announced. Called Rolling Strong, the app was created by a company that creates and manages wellness programs for trucking and transportation companies. They also cover owner-operators who are looking for more assistance on operating with health and safety in mind.

The app assists truck drivers in making health decisions while they are on the road. Up to now, there have been few innovative options regarding the topic of health and wellness for truckers, but all that is starting to change.

The Rolling Strong app is designed to help truckers make better health decisions and encourage them to adopt a healthy lifestyle. It also has built-in mechanisms designed to be compatible with a fleet’s current safety management program and is available in both iOS and Android formats.

Personal Safety Systems

Truck drivers will also benefit from an announced personal safety system. A company who provides cargo safety systems has branched out to include truck drivers. Normally, the company provides around-the-clock response for safety, security or medial issues through the simple use of a button push and a key fob entered into the dash.

The technology is designed to help fleets take a more proactive approach to truck driver safety and protection. Both known and unknown safety issues come up almost every day, so having a service on the back end to help manage these situations could be incredibly beneficial.

Finally, technologies like these go a long way towards increasing truck driver recruiting and retention efforts. Professional truck drivers are more engaged when they know their fleets are investing in technologies that help them increase safety and security levels.

Truck Driver Exploitation Bill

There have also been moves in Washington where truck driver safety is concerned. House Democrats have introduced two federal bills aimed at preventing port trucking companies from exploiting their workforce.

While the problem isn’t widespread, there have been instances where lease-to-own contracts basically force truck drivers to work non-stop for what amounts to almost minimum wage.

Called the Port Drivers’ Bill of Rights Act of 2017, the potential law lays down a basic framework for ports who employ truck drivers in daily operations. Whether it be fair pay, labor standards, or otherwise, the bill provides protection from what it calls “exploitative truck lease or rental arrangements.”

According to Grace Napolitano, a Democrat from California, “For truck drivers to be treated fairly and paid fairly, [the proposed law] is a no-brainer. We thought [the companies] would do it without legislation, but that hasn’t happened. So we had to put it in writing.”

Under the proposed bill, federal regulators would be required to create and deploy task forces that would investigate port companies, look closely at employment and lease contracts and potentially weed out port companies that are taking advantage of their truck drivers.

All of this stems from a report produced by USA Today, which showed that dozens of trucking companies operating in Southern California avoided having to pay for their new trucks by forcing their truck drivers on company-sponsored lease programs that were heavily tilted in the fleet’s favor.

Whether or not the bill makes it through a Republican Congress and on to the president’s desk is another story. While time will tell, the fact that people are talking about it raises this issue’s profile, which is only good for truck drivers affected by it.

FMCSA Extends The Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee’s Charter

Have you heard of the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC)?

Chartered by Congress in 2006, the MCSAC has been given a mandate to provide information, advise and recommendations to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regarding safety programs and regulatory initiatives for heavy duty commercial motor vehicles and commercial buses.

Who Are They?

The MCSAC is primarily comprised of trucking safety, advocacy, enforcement, labor and industry stakeholders. Members are chosen through an FMCSA application process. Each member is selected from a pool who meet two requirements:

  1. They are not employees of the FMCSA.
  2. They are specially qualified to serve on the committee based on education, training or experience.

Upon MCSAC’s creation, then-FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro stated that it was intended to “help FMCSA raise the bar for carriers to enter the industry, maintain high safety standards to remain in the industry, and remove high risk carriers and drivers from our roadways.”

Around the same time, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood remarked in regards to MCSAC that “at DOT, safety is our highest priority. Working with partners who provide us with greater knowledge, experience and ideas will only help us make our nation’s highways even safer.”

Fortunately for the 20-person committee, on September 29 their mandate was renewed for two years. Yet they are operating within an anti-regulatory environment, so what could their mandate possibly be?

How Their Mandate is Changing

According to President Trump’s Executive Order 13771, agencies are required to relieve businesses of burdensome regulations. As such, the FMCSA gave a presentation to the committee regarding which federal highway safety rules might be eliminated.

FMCSA spokesman Duane DeBruyne stated as such when he was recently quoted saying the presentation was intended to “introduce a new FMCSA assignment to the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee members, agency staff prepared a short PowerPoint presentation outlining some possible ‘regulatory relief’ candidates that could be suggested or included in response to the Presidential Executive Order. MCSAC, which is comprised of a broad representation of all of FMCSA’s stakeholders, is now tasked to come up with their own independently derived recommendations.”

During the presentation, the FMCSA pinpointed 12 rules governing commercial motor vehicle use that they recommended be scaled back or eliminated. Making MCSAC’s job even harder, each of the rules slated for the chopping block are intended to improve trucking safety. How does one pick which safety initiative is better or worse than another?

One way is to first look at rules that are so old they may now be outdated or others that may no longer be enforced for whatever reason. One example of this are the Motor Carrier Routing Regulations found under Part 325 of the FMCSRs.

These rules are nothing more than the remnants of the now-shut down Commerce Commission. Some ask whether they even serve a purpose anymore. In their presentation, the FMCSA stated that eliminating the rules could simplify regulatory burdens while having little to no economic impact.

The agency also singled out rules and reporting requirements governing everything from medical records to road test results and state cooperation agreements. In conclusion, the FMCSA recommended a three-step process for the MCSAC to consider as part of the regulatory reform process:

  1. Contact additional industry stakeholders and conduct more outreach and solicit opinion.
  2. Seek public comment on the Federal Register through a DOT notice.
  3. Move forward with FMCSA rule making and planning.

Of course, DeBruyne did stress that the MCSAC should act independently in order to come up with the best recommendations while remaining in line with the executive order. In short, they are urged to recommend the elimination of the 12 rules, but are not bound to do so.

 

 

 

New Moves In Trucking Safety

There are a number of interesting bits of news this week in trucking safety. The first comes out of Utah, where the Federal Highway Administration opened a commenting period for the public to weigh in on a truck-climbing lane in Utah.

The news comes on the back of an announcement by the Utah Department of Transportation that it plans to install a truck-climbing lane on a steep section of Interstate 80 approximately 15 miles from Salt Lake City.

The climbing lane will stretch for around 3 miles, cutting across and over the mountain pass known as Parley’s Summit. You may be wondering, “Well, what’s so special about Utah?”

The main reason this is big news is that Interstate 80 is a major route between San Francisco and New Jersey. Many people who travel cross-country wind up taking this route.

Now, the FHWA plans to seek judicial review on the matter before March 5 of 2018. According to a UDOT spokesman, the purpose of the project is to reduce the amount of truck congestion currently on the highway. It is also meant to limit accidents that involve other motorists or wildlife.

The wildlife problem will be addressed with the installation of a wildlife crossing over the I-80. Since there a lot of deer and elk in the area, this bypass should help alleviate accident risk and save wildlife.

Ian Peterson, who is the COO for a Utah-based trucking company, was quoted as saying “I don’t see a downside to that. It’s a pretty heavily traveled canyon.  There’s a lot of truck traffic in that canyon, but then there’s also a lot of commuter traffic.”

A big problem with the area is that commuter traffic has exploded as people have moved to the area in droves. According to the U.S. Cencus Bureau, Utah is the fastest-growing state by population. Surrounding communities, from Jeremy Ranch to Park and Heber City are seeing exponential growth. Unfortunately, this expansion is crowding out the route, which runs three lands in each direction. ‘

Again, Ian Peterson. “That’s really added to the number of cars on the road, especially during peak driving hours. I think it’ll make it safer because there is a lot of traffic. I think it’s a positive thing.”

New Low-Cost Safety Solution 

On another safety front, a company out of Anaheim, California is addressing a problem truck drivers face during drop and hook operations. Many believe this to be a completely overlooked cause of worker compensation costs and lost productivity within trucking.

The company, UltraLift Technologies, aims to help reduce the number of repetitive stress injuries truck drivers face.  The low-power tool they have developed represents a safer alternative to hand-cranking whenever a truck driver needs to raise or lower the trailer’s landing gear.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety, “upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders are one of the four most common types of workplace injury. They can also be some of the most costly.

Still, far too few trucking companies pay close enough attention to these types of injuries. Instead, so much effort has been put into distracted driving and reducing traffic accidents, that many forget there are plenty of safety concerns at stake when a truck is parked, as well.

UltraLift enters the market claiming that their tool is the first of its kind and can be used on any trailer type, whether hydraulic, pneumatic or electrical. All that is required is around 5- 10 minutes of installation time.

Since fleets have the option of quickly and easily retrofitting their fleet with this technology, with very little downtime, UltraLift is aiming to see its technology reach widespread adoption across the trucking industry.

With fleets continually trying to cut costs and add more to their bottom line, minimizing costs, injuries and workplace safety issues can go a long way. Is your motor carrier taking these problems seriously? We operate in a new age of safety. It’s time to get prepared.

 

Why Preventative Maintenance Should Be Part Of Your Safety Program

Why does preventative maintenance matter? Because it could be the major mitigating factor when it comes to the safe operation of your fleet’s heavy-duty commercial motor vehicles.

The fact is, fleet vehicles need to be inspected and maintained on a regular basis. Without proper preventative maintenance, your operation could be spending wasted dollars on reactive maintenance, which does nothing to help your bottom line.

For professional truck drivers, preventative maintenance should be a constant fact of life. When one works with a vehicle day-in and day-out, they need assurances that the safe operation of that vehicle is paramount.

Avoiding Unscheduled Maintenance

Routine vehicle servicing shouldn’t be in question. It is unscheduled maintenance that can cause problems on the road. What if a tire blows out because it wasn’t noticed that a lug was at risk for blowing out?

If that tire blows while on the road, the truck driver could be at a greater risk for accident. The last thing your fleet needs is a safety issue because you weren’t able to discern when a tire needed to be replaced.

The Department of Transportation regulates preventative maintenance under Section 3496.3 of the FMCSRs. This means that you are required to have a preventative maintenance program in place at all times.

The Key Steps to Road Safety

For every fleet or motor carrier in operation, road safety is the number one priority. Road safety includes everything from frequent maintenance to scheduled services and vehicles repairs and inspections.

Trucking companies make significant and valuable investments into their fleets. Investing similarly in preventative maintenance saves a fleet from paying costly regulation violation fees. As a result, preventative maintenance should be an integral part of every fleet truck driver training program.

A scheduled fleet maintenance program will focus on ensuring that the vehicles in the fleet are in good condition 100% of the time. Although your maintenance schedule may vary, a calendar or checklist will help you keep track of which vehicles are in need of attention, whatever the kind.

What to Tell Your Truck Drivers

But how do you train a truck driver to take preventative maintenance seriously? It starts with the senses. When you explain to your truck operators the incentives behind operating their truck at peak operational efficiency, it isn’t hard to get their buy-in on the program.

Tell them to consider the following questions:

  • Do you smell something strange coming from inside or outside the vehicle?
  • Is there water trapped underneath the carpet?
  • Does their appear to be an electrical malfunction?
  • Are you hearing any strange sounds coming from underneath the hood or within the cab?
  • Are there any fluids leaking out from underneath the vehicle?
  • Do you hear any rhythmic clicks or taps at any point during vehicle operations?

What is most important is that your fleet implements a road safety program as soon as possible. However you address the individual needs of your fleet, make sure safety is at the top of the list. Ensure you are keeping adequate records and that you put a capable person in charge of the program.

Are you wondering how to take your safety initiatives to another level? Consider preventative maintenance as an essential key in this process. By ensuring your trucks are in good working condition and your truck drivers are trained, you’ll ensure safe marks for your fleet for some time to come.

 

AAA Makes The Case For More Safety Technology On Heavy Duty Trucks

One of the nation’s oldest insurance and roadway safety advocate organizations, AAA, has come out through their foundation with a report recommending that all heavy duty commercial motor vehicles be equipped with the latest safety technologies. The report is called Leveraging Large Truck Technology and Engineering to Realize Safety Gains.

According to the AAA Foundation, if every heavy duty commercial motor vehicle was equipped with advanced safety devices there would be a potential to prevent up to 63,000 large truck-related crashes per year.

Yet, where do they get the data to back up this assertion? According to in-house studies, in 2015 large trucks were involved in over 400,000 crashes. Of those crashes came over 4,000 deaths and 116,000 injuries. The sobering part? These statistics represent a 4 percent increase over the prior year.

With new safety technologies becoming more ubiquitous in the trucking industry, one can only wonder what kind of significant changes we may see should AAA’s recommendations become reality.

According to David Yang, Executive Director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, “This new research shows that the benefits of adding many of these technologies to trucks clearly outweigh the cost.”

Looking At The Details

AAA’s report took a hard look at both safety benefits and costs, including installation and training. They went on to break down the technologies they studied into four categories:

  1. Lane departure warning systems
  2. Automatic emergency braking systems
  3. Video-based safety systems
  4. Air disc brakes

Each of these categories were then broken down by their numbers to determine societal safety benefits, which essentially equates to the economic value of lives saved and injuries prevented. Then, they compared this with the cost of equipping these technologies on all existing large trucks.

What they found should be as no surprise. Per their analysis, the benefits brought by these systems far outweigh their up front costs.

The Breakdown

When you break down each particular category by dollar amount, the AAA Foundation’s initial assertion becomes clear. Taking lane departure warning systems as one example, if every truck were equipped with one, almost 6,400 accidents, over 1,300 injuries and 115 deaths could be avoided each year.

For video-based systems, the numbers are even more staggering. Since these advanced systems can handle a number of functions, their flexibility makes them a useful tool. Per the AAA Foundation’s report, were every truck equipped with video-based safety systems it would prevent up to 63,000 accidents, over 17,700 injuries and 293 deaths on an annual basis.

These are really stunning numbers. Of course, the worst possible outcomes is always death or injury. Fleet bottom line and litigation aside, the more lives that can be saved, the better.

Even addressing braking issues would have an outsized impact. Automatic emergency braking systems installed on all trucks would prevent nearly 5,300 crashes, over 2,700 injuries and 55 deaths.  Even air disc brakes alone could go a long way, preventing over 2,400 accidents, 1,400 injuries and 37 deaths.

Combine them all and the numbers will shock you. Going by AAA’s numbers, over 77,000 accidents, 21,800 injuries, and 385 deaths could be prevented. These surely are astounding numbers, to say the least.

Making this change should seem like a no-brainer, especially considering the public feels the same. A recent survey conducted in parallel with the AAA Foundation’s work revealed that a full six out of every ten adults – or around 61% – feel less safe when driving past heavy duty commercial motor vehicles. They list their main concerns as size, blind spots and unintentional drifting or swerving.

In the end, no matter what the AAA Foundation suggest or what a particular fleet decides, professional truck drivers and passenger motorists alike have a shared responsibility to be attentive and practice safe driving techniques at all times. While trucking companies mull over how much safety technology is needed, proper driving behavior can work wonder.

 

State Moves In Safety Regulations

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?