Semitrailers can be extremely dangerous. It doesn't take a major mistake for one of these massive vehicles to veer into oncoming traffic or slam into slowed or stopped traffic.
It only takes the blink of an eye for things to go wrong on the road. A distracted, drunk, or drowsy driver can quickly veer into oncoming traffic, fail to stop for slowed traffic or pedestrians, and neglect to yield to other vehicles when turning left. While any type of car accident can leave a trail of devastation in its wake, those involving semi-trucks can be especially catastrophic, oftentimes leaving victims with serious injuries that can be life altering.
Large trucks are an important part of keeping Kentucky stores and retail centers full of consumer products. When shipments of goods arrive on sea vessels, by plane or by train, they are often loaded onto large delivery trucks so that they can be taken to stores and cities throughout the country. However, when large trucks are involved in motor vehicle accidents with other cars, trucks and SUVs, it is often the smaller vehicles that are damaged and their drivers and passengers who are hurt.
Trucking regulations limit the number of hours that drivers of commercial vehicles can be on the road. These rules are meant to combat fatigue and they apply to truckers across the nation, including those right here in Kentucky. But the U.S. Department of Transportation may weaken the federal regulations restricting driving hours even though safety advocates claim that this will increase the risk of truck accidents.
Limiting truck speeds to 65 mph would prevent between 63 and 214 deaths each year, according to a Department of Transportation regulation proposal. Because this proposal has been languishing for almost 10 years, two senators introduced a bill that would electronically restrict tractor-trailer speeds to 65 mph. The bill's proponents claim that it will prevent fatal truck accidents.
Federal drug testing rules and commercial driver's licensing standards that were enacted in the 1990s have reduced the number of truck crashes involving drugs. However, several fatal accidents, the increasing legalization of marijuana use and the increased awareness of the abuse of anti-anxiety medications have all raised concerns over the role of drugs in truck accidents. Advocates claim that federal drug-testing programs miss many drivers who use drugs.
One of the most serious consequences of a truck accident is the harm caused by the large size difference between the truck and the other vehicle. However, truck accidents are not limited to these situations. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that an impaired trash truck driver was likely responsible for a deadly crash with an Amtrak train last year.
Many semi-trucks pass through Kentucky every day. With major freeways crisscrossing the state and a location close to industrial operations, like the Toyota plant, semi-trucks are a major presence on our roads. Most of the time these trucks can safely share the road with other drivers, but occasionally a serious accident occurs. Many times, accidents involving trucks cause serious injuries or even death. A new report released has indicated that the trucking industry is experiencing a shortage of drivers which may impact truck safety.