North Carolina residents should know that 4,102 Americans died in large truck crashes in 2017. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states that 82% of these victims were occupants of other vehicles, motorcyclists, bicyclists or pedestrians and that most died by being crushed in the exposed area between the truck's front and rear wheels.
There are many reasons why a truck accident can occur on North Carolina roads. One common cause is excessive speed. Drivers may try to go faster when they are paid by the load delivered as more deliveries equals a higher hourly rate. In some cases, brake failure can prevent a truck from stopping in a timely manner. When a commercial truck's brakes are working properly, they can stop within 100 feet when traveling at 35 miles per hour.
Every year, many road users in North Carolina are killed or seriously injured due to accidents caused by fatigued truck drivers. Federal hours-of-service regulations have been put into place to help prevent fatigue-related crashes, but industry groups like the American Trucking Association have lobbied Congress aggressively to relax the rules. These organizations say that the regulations do little to improve road safety but limit the amount that truck drivers can earn.
When North Carolina drivers speed, they might be more likely to cause accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2015 statistics indicate that more than 90% of motor vehicle accidents had speed as a factor. The agency also reported that speed was involved in over 25% of traffic-related deaths in 2017. Data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety supports this figure, with the organization saying that speed has contributed to more than 25 percent of deaths in motor vehicle accidents for the last decade.
The speaker at a safety systems seminar during Atlanta's annual Technology & Maintenance Council has addressed a major issue of which some drivers in North Carolina may not be aware: namely, the issue of truckers manipulating or disabling the safety technology in their trucks. By doing this, they can engage in negligent actions like distracted or drowsy driving and, as long as an accident does not occur, get away with it.
With a recent rise in the number of fatal truck crashes, two prominent traffic organizations are lobbying the federal government for mandatory safety measures. If the measures become law, it will affect semi-truck drivers in North Carolina as well as those driving through the state.
Truckers in North Carolina are probably aware of the dangers they face on the road, especially distraction and fatigue. NHTSA reports that there are as many as 100,000 fatigue-related crashes every year, and the National Center for Statistics and Analysis finds that distracted driving is behind 10 percent of all fatal crashes and 15 percent of all injury crashes.
North Carolina residents know that sharing the road with commercial trucks can be dangerous. They may not know that large truck crash fatalities have risen 28 percent from 2009 to 2016 and that some have responded to this trend by calling for specific changes to federal truck safety guidelines. This call is summed up by The Kansas City Star in an article that has even garnered the attention of several members of Congress.
In North Carolina, distractions are becoming the norm for everyone from the driving public to commercial truckers. Distracted driving accidents often result in serious injuries to passengers and damage to vehicles because when drivers are inattentive to the road, they will not have any chance to avert a crash. Trucking companies face injury claims and delays on account of these types of accidents.
Drivers of commercial trucks in North Carolina and the rest of the country should be aware of the Brake Safety Week to be held by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. During the week-long event, which begins on September 16, truck inspectors will be increasing their enforcement efforts.