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Commercial trucking contributes majorly to the transportation sector of the country. But, auto accidents involving heavy trucks can be extremely dangerous for other vehicles.Crashes, injuries, and deaths due to accidents involving commercial trucks have been increasing over the past several years. In 2014, more than 400,000 crashes involving heavy trucks were reported to the police in the U.S.
Tractor trailers, semi-trailer trucks, and big 18-wheelers are vehicles that require proper fleet maintenance by regulatory agencies, which can reduce the probability of commercial truck accidents. Periodic vehicle inspections and compliance reviews of vehicle safety equipment and technology can be helpful in keeping a check on the condition of the trucks.
Here is a list of safety measures that can help reduce the risk of commercial truck accidents on the road:
Incorporating Vehicle Safety Technology in Trucks
Vehicle safety technology is a part of vehicle controls that helps to mitigate the impact of a probable collision. Technologies such as collision warning technology, tire pressure monitoring systems, rollover stability control systems, and lane departure warning systems are used by most commercial-truck fleet manufacturers, but need to be mandated across the entire industry.
Trailers and heavy trucks are frequently driven at night. Safety technology for enhanced night vision can be executed to help them drive safely. Equipment, such as infrared headlamps and thermal imaging cameras, can help see farther down the road and spot objects, animals, pedestrians, or trees in the path, even at nearly 1,000 feet away.
Further, adaptive headlights are used in many trailers that shift the focal point as the vehicle moves. They can follow the direction of the truck and bend the beam as the vehicle goes around corners and may also be speed-sensitive or adapt to the ambient light.
Using Driving Assistance Systems
Driving for long hours can be tiring. Fatigue and stress can take their toll on truck drivers, who can misjudge the distance between their trucks and other vehicles, or overlook sharp turns. Driving assistance systems can be of great help to truck drivers, as they can be forewarned about road hazards.
Blind spot detection and collision warning systems introduced in commercial trucks are designed for this purpose. They alarm drivers about other vehicles and stationary objects like poles and sign boards present in the blind spot area. It is easier to park and maneuver large trailers with the help of this technology.
Collision warning systems are short-range detection systems that usually need to be switched on when driving. But, they also notify the driver if they detect chances of a collision on the road. The systems use vehicle controls to flash a light in the rear mirror, make the driver's seat or steering wheel vibrate, or set off an alarm in other ways.
Using Space Cushion Technique When Driving
Professional drivers who spend long hours on the road, especially the ones who drive heavy trucks, need to drive safe. One of the key aspects of safe driving is to constantly maintain a safe distance between the vehicle and other vehicles, people, and objects.
There is a method called 'space cushioning' the vehicle. By following this technique, drivers can make sure that the trucks aren't too close to other objects – whether stationary or moving. Space cushioning is about maintaining the overall space around your trailer, which includes maintaining distance in the front for turning space, checking rear space for backing, and adequate spaces on either side of the trailer.
As a professional driver, you should use GPS technology to take the routes with tunnels, overpasses, and low clearances with sufficient height, allowing you to maintain safe distance above your trailer as well as the surface beneath the vehicle. You should pay closer attention to sloped and uneven road surfaces, road hazards, slipperiness, accumulated precipitation on the road, and weight restrictions (if any) when driving.
Including Anti-Lock Braking System in Trucks
Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) are commonly used as electronic controls in most commercial and non-commercial roles. This technology enables you to stop the wheels of your vehicle from rotating during emergency braking. It also allows better steering control and alignment, even on rough surfaces.
With advanced technology and motion sensors used in ABS, the wheels of the trailer will generally stop at a shorter and controlled stopping distance, but you shouldn't expect your trailer to stop if you brake at a very close distance.
The key advantage of driving with ABS is that you can steer your truck even when applying maximum brake force. These systems are extremely effective for safe driving in winter when roads are more likely to be wet or slippery. If your ABS fails to operate, then you can still use the conventional braking system installed in your trailer. However, keep in mind that the stopping distance will not be very short, and the ABS only enables you to steer away from obstacles and delay collisions.
Driving commercial trailers and heavy vehicles is not an easy task, as they are more difficult to maneuver and need to be driven by professionally trained drivers. By incorporating advanced safety technology with safe driving skills, drivers can avoid crashes and collisions. With several techniques available, regulators need to ensure that these protection systems are included in the commercial vehicles to curb heavy vehicle crashes. This is a step that could save many lives.