A recently-passed Senate transportation bill might significantly lower the rate of U.S. trucking accidents, which presently stands at a staggering 500,000 per year. The $109 billion bill includes funds for creating more truck parking at gas stations, a mandate for having electronic onboard time recorders, and stricter rules for new truckers.
“This bill is a step forward for highway safety,” said Bill Graves, President of the American Trucking Associations, on March 14. “It moves us in the direction of establishing crashworthiness standards for large trucks. It also raises the bar that new companies and drivers must clear before coming into the trucking industry.”
Trucker Fatigue – A Deadly Problem
Trucking accidents kill 5,000 Americans every year. Of those who die, nearly a third are killed as a result of truck driver fatigue, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The DOT also reports that “drowsiness” crashes generally result in more severe injuries and greater damage to cars. Despite new federal rules that say truckers should only drive 8 hours at a time, many drivers still find themselves putting in 14-hour days.
Far from being solitary and voiceless, however, truckers are taking a strong stand against companies that push them to the brink of exhaustion. Web sites like Askthetrucker.com and Thetruckersreport.com provide lively commentary about safety regulations, sleep issues, and other important matters affecting the trucking industry.
New voice of concern
“Professional drivers now have a new platform to share truth and express their concerns through trucking social media,” said an “Ask The Trucker” post on February 9th titled “Regulatory Safety Violations Catching Up With Trucking Firms.”
The post continues: “Long haul motor carriers have been getting away with dodging the system for too many years, and….new regulations are beginning to catch up with them.”
I applaud the brave men and women behind these sites, and can only hope their efforts raise the public’s consciousness about truck driver safety.