There’s no question that truck accidents can be utterly devastating. The weight and size that commercial trucks bring into accidents make them far deadlier than your standard car or SUV. For this reason, truck accidents often make the news headlines, and it might be easy to think that truckers are poor drivers or irresponsible.
But the truth is that most truck drivers are careful and conscientious. Most care about safe driving at least as much as you or me. The truth is the drivers of passenger vehicles deserve a significant share of the blame for roughly 56% of all collisions between trucks and cars. So, it’s worth noting what truckers think of as their top safety concerns.
The top three safety concerns according to truck companies
Fleet Owner recently reported on the issues that truckers addressed during the latest Trucking Safety Summit hosted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The summit was attended by members of both the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA). Both groups raised several concerns, and those concerns offer some interesting context for truck safety and truck accidents.
According to the report, the biggest issues the trucking organizations raised were:
- Driver safety, especially with the distractions presented by smartphones and social media apps
- Drug use and drug testing in age defined by an opioid epidemic and the increased legalization of marijuana across the various states
- The congestion and poor decisions influenced by the nations aging and deteriorating infrastructure
- Delays to the rules for entry-level driver training that allow drivers to continue hitting the roads without adequate training
While all of these suggest a real attention to safety, it’s worth noting that the summit’s attendees addressed them within the context of saving money. As Fleet Owner noted, the ATA claims that trucking companies spend more than $10 billion each year on safety. These costs include the training, compliance and technology meant to make the roads safer.
But truckers don’t always appreciate what they get for their money. One executive with the OOIDA claimed it was “no secret” that truckers didn’t like the Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) that could automatically track their time on the road. In turn, they celebrated the recent changes that relaxed their Hours of Service (HOS), generally allowing them to compress more driving into a shorter time.
What matters for accident victims?
Truck companies have a real interest in safer transport and safer roads. However, their interest is largely in protecting their bottom lines. Conversely, the drivers of passenger vehicles and the victims of truck accidents want to understand why they were injured. Things like speeding and bad brakes.
The disconnect is a reminder that truck drivers aren’t the only ones behind the trucks. There are also trucking companies that may be looking the wrong way. They’re often focused on how well their drivers’ breaks work for them, not how well their trucks’ brakes are working on the road.