Truckers and their employers in Oklahoma should know that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released some disturbing data during the 2019 Transportation Research Board's annual meeting. The organization found that the percentage of fatal crashes involving at least one large truck increased each year from 2015 to 2017. The percentage of large truck occupant fatalities rose during that same period.
According to federal data, large truck crash fatalities went up between 2009 and 2017. This came despite a corresponding decrease in miles traveled by commercial truckers. Oklahoma drivers have good reason to be wary around big rigs because many are not equipped with the safety technology that can help them prevent crashes.
Truck driver fatigue can pose a serious threat to roadway safety in Oklahoma. Because commercial trucks are so massive, a truck crash can be particularly devastating to the lives and well-being of passengers and drivers in other vehicles. Truck drivers are at risk of fatigue for many reasons; they often drive along monotonous highways for many hours at a time, often at night. Drivers who switch their shifts may be particularly vulnerable to fatigue, and when a truck driver dozes off behind the wheel, the result can be a catastrophic truck accident.
Truck drivers spend a significant amount of time on Oklahoma's highways. That's why safety advocates say the companies that employ them must take the lead in promoting protocols to reduce the number of deadly crashes. Truckers are especially singled out because deadlines are always an issue with deliveries. Furthermore, the sheer size of a large semi can result in severe injury or death.
Federal data shows a 28 percent increase in the number of large truck crash fatalities between 2009 and 2016. Using this data as a starting point, The Kansas City Star has published an article advocating mandatory crash avoidance technology on commercial trucks. Truckers in Oklahoma will want to know what supporters, opponents and those in between are saying at the moment.
Semi-tractor trailers undergoing roadside inspections are likely to be a common sight in Oklahoma and around the country during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's Brake Safety Week. The nonprofit group of state and federal safety officials and industry representatives shortened their annual brake safety blitz to a single day in 2017, but the nation's commercial vehicle drivers can expect a full week of enhanced scrutiny this year.
Many drivers in Oklahoma find driving beside large trucks to be a stressful experience simply because of the size and mass of these large vehicles. However, they can pose a significant danger on the roads, especially because they are so much larger than the cars, bicycles or pedestrians with which they share the roads. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has released 2016 statistics showing that the number of fatalities from truck crashes continues to rise across the country, with a 3 percent rise in accident deaths between 2015 and 2016.
Oklahoma drivers that have been injured in an accident caused by a commercial truck may have a case for monetary damages. In some instances, a trucker's insurance company will acknowledge the truck driver was at fault and negotiate a settlement with the injured driver. The settlement process may not be intuitive for the injured driver, however.
Since December 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has required commercial truck drivers to record their duty status through electronic logging devices. According to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, FMCSA is allowing for a period of "soft enforcement" of the mandate until April 1. This is important for those truckers in Oklahoma who might still be operating with paper logs.