Big rigs haul cargo across Mississippi every day, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has the task of tracking how well trucking companies comply with safety regulations. Since 2015, the agency has been under an order from Congress to update its methods for collecting data and scoring the safety records of companies. A 10-page report issued by the agency has presented the proposed reforms that were developed with input from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Thousands of motorists are killed or seriously injured every year in Mississippi and around the country in collisions with semi-tractor trailers. Larger vehicles provide greater protection in a crash, and data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reveals that more than two-thirds of the road users killed in truck accidents are car, pickup truck or SUV occupants.
There are more large trucks than ever on the road, and for Mississippi drivers, this can be a serious safety concern. When a large truck is involved in a collision, the consequences can be severe for the other pedestrians or vehicles involved, especially given the mass and weight of semi-trucks and 18-wheelers. The risk of an accident is significantly increased when a truck driver takes the road outside of their mandated hours of service, because drivers who have been on the road for too long can become fatigued.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has just released a data drill-down report that may be of interest to drivers in Mississippi, especially operators of large commercial vehicles. Entitled "2016 Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts," the report shows that the year in question saw a 3 percent rise in the number of fatal large-truck collisions -- 4,213 compared to the previous year's 4,074.
The International Roadcheck should be a familiar event to commercial truck and bus drivers in Mississippi. This nationwide inspection spree, conducted by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, takes place every year over the course of 72 hours, and its purpose is to ensure compliance with driver- and vehicle-related safety guidelines. Those found breaking the rules are handed out-of-service orders.
Commercial trucks number over 15 million on the roads of Mississippi and the rest of the U.S., and when they're involved in an accident, the results can be fatal for other drivers. A new study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has analyzed the causes of truck accidents and broken them down into four basic categories: Decision, recognition, performance, and non-performance.
Despite the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals previously dismissing their lawsuit, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) recently filed a motion asking the court to reconsider their suit. The suit argues that a recent rule change by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regarding sleep apnea screenings for tractor-trailer drivers violated federal law. Sleep apnea rules affect drivers across Mississippi given that fatigued driving is a major contributing factor in truck accidents.
Truck drivers in Mississippi and around the country may have more flexible hours of service if a rule proposed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is adopted. The group has asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to change its rules for the 14-hour daily clock and allow drivers to skip the mandatory half-hour break in the first eight hours. It has also asked the FMCSA to allow drivers to stop the clock for up to three hours.
A bipartisan proposal for a bill called the Stop Underrides Act of 2017 is making its way through Congress. If passed, it will mandate that all commercial trucks install side underride guards. Drivers in Mississippi may be aware that underrides are a frequent outcome of truck accidents. In 2016, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 295 car occupants were killed in side underride crashes, and 238 died in rear underride crashes.
The individuals in Mississippi who are in the most danger from large truck accidents are the drivers and passengers of smaller vehicles. Whether or not car drivers are taking every precaution while driving, they are susceptible to being injured if the operator of the truck is distracted or driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Because of the vast differences in the size of the vehicles, there is a higher chance that serious injuries or death will occur.