More truck accidents can be prevented every year if tractor trailers come with sophisticated technologies, including roll stability control, electronic stability control, and electronic logging devices. That’s because truck driver fatigue and truck defects contribute to many truck accidents each year.
Researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently partnered with other experts to investigate the causal factors impacting accident risk for commercial trucks. Large trucks that had been involved in injury or fatal accidents during the 2010-2012 were compared with other trucks that had not been involved in accidents. A total of 197 such pairs were compared, and researchers found that more than one-third of the accidents that were investigated as part of the study had resulted in fatalities. At least 17% involved serious injuries.
The researchers found that three quarter of the accidents involved tractor trailers with vehicle defects that were only identified during post-accident inspections. In fact, trucks with violations like malfunctioning brake lights, malfunctioning brakes, damaged sidewalls, and damaged headlights or taillights that were serious enough to put the trucks out of service, had their risk of being involved in an accident quadruple, compared to trucks that did not have such violations.
The IIHF study also found that drivers who were operating a commercial motor vehicle for too long were also much more likely to be involved in an accident. Federal regulations currently require truck drivers to work a maximum of 11 hours a shift, and a maximum of 77 hours over a period of one week. That rule is designed to limit the impact of driver fatigue in causing accidents. Unfortunately, drivers still continue to manipulate records in order to drive longer hours, because their pay is very often linked to the number of hours they drive.
However, the use of appropriate technologies like electronic stability control, roll stability control and electronic logging devices can help minimize accident risks caused by driver fatigue and truck defects. Federal agencies involved in highway and transportation safety already have plans to mandate at least some of these technologies, like electronic logging, in order to reduce accident risks.