Roadway dangers for drivers and passengers in North Carolina can come from an array of sources, including drunk or distracted drivers. The dangers of the roadway can be even more disturbing when they involve large trucks and buses due to these vehicles' size, weight, mass and speed. Any impact with a semi-truck or similar large vehicle could cause devastating personal injuries, and this danger only escalates when a truck driver is fatigued due to exceeding their safe hours on the roadway.
Many truck accidents in North Carolina and across the U.S. may be caused by poor driver health, according investigators at the University of Utah School of Medicine. A study has been published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine that shows a correlation between trucker crash risk and the presence of one or more medical conditions.
Trucking companies and drivers in North Carolina continue to face uncertainty about testing and treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. As things stand now, multiple screening protocols present the trucking industry with inconsistent standards that govern which drivers get sent for medical tests. Truckers sometimes claim that they are unfairly targeted for medical tests and that the process is just meant to benefit sleep apnea testing companies and makers of treatment devices. Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have filed bills meant to compel the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to administer consistent rules across the industry.
Many North Carolina motorists do not enjoy driving next to or near large 18-wheel trucks. This is understandable, as there are a few reasons why this can be risky.
When North Carolina motorists are in accidents with large trucks, the truck drivers are not always at fault. In fact, car drivers are at fault in around 70 percent of accidents that involve large trucks and cars.
Federal data suggests that the roads in North Carolina and around the country have become more dangerous in recent years. The surge in traffic accident deaths observed in 2015 and 2016 represented the highest two-year increase in road fatalities in more than half a century according to the National Safety Council, and statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration indicate that fatal collisions involving large commercial vehicles are becoming worryingly common.
The vehicles of some North Carolina truck drivers may have been inspected on May 3 as part of an unannounced Brake Safety Day. There was a total of 9,524 inspections by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, and 1,989 trucks were found to be in violation and placed out of service. Brake-related violations were the cause of 1,146 of these out-of-service placements.
Federal rules for truck driver training are going into place that will affect new drivers in North Carolina and across the United States. The national training standards had been delayed for five months after the Trump administration ordered the regulations reviewed. The new rules, which became effective on June 5, have a compliance window that lasts for nearly three years.
North Carolina motorists who are concerned about their safety on the roadway may be interested to learn that trucking companies may soon be screening more drivers for sleep apnea. Based on the U.S. Supreme Court's April decision not to hear a case on the matter, courts do not appear to be willing to grant truckers protection for obesity under the American with Disabilities Act. As a result, some companies may now require testing with less fear of being named in a potential lawsuit.
More large trucks and buses are becoming involved in fatal accidents in North Carolina and around the country according to a report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The agency observed increases between 2014 and 2015 in both the number of commercial vehicles weighing in excess of 10,000 pounds involved in fatal crashes and the number of fatal accidents per 100 million miles traveled by trucks and buses.