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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.

 

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Driving a Big Rig: Eight Safety Tips for Truck Drivers

The American trucking business is a multi-million dollar industry. According to the American Trucking Association, trucking collected $726.4 billion in gross freight revenues, which makes 81.5 percent of the nation's freight bill in 2015. Unfortunately, thousands of trucking accidents take place in the United States every year. According to a report published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 342,000 large trucks were involved in road crashes in 2013, killing 3,964 and injuring almost 95,000 people. When in an accident, trucks usually cause huge property damage and serious injuries due to their massive size. Driving a big rig requires a great deal of skill. It also involves a huge responsibility for the safety of others as well as the truck driver. Here are eight safety tips for big rig drivers that can keep you safe on the road: 1. Be Aware of Your Truck's Blind Spots Truck drivers' blind spots are areas around the truck where the driver does not have a clear view of nearby objects. Although truck drivers are higher off the ground, they still have serious blind spots. These blind spot areas include the side directly in front of the cab, area right behind the truck, and along each side, especially on the right side. Most car and bike drivers are not aware of these blind spots, which can be quite frustrating for truck drivers. Unfortunately, there is nothing a trucker can do if the other driver stays in his/her blind spot. So, other drivers on the road should stay out of these blind spots to avoid a fatal collision. Nonetheless, truck drivers should also take precaution when changing lanes and taking a turn. 2. Plan Your Trip in Advance Knowing the terrain, traffic, and weather conditions along your route can help you plan your trip well in advance. When planning your trip, make sure to avoid routes with a higher likelihood of accidents. In short, you should avoid hilly or mountainous terrains and roads with frequent stop signs, where you may have to face long lines of impatient drivers. Avoid driving at peak hours. More traffic means higher chances of an accident.    Bad weather is arguably the biggest safety threat to a trucker. Make sure to check the latest weather reports before starting your trip. If necessary, check the reports as frequently as you can when traveling. There are numerous weather websites as well as mobile apps offering regular updates of local weather conditions. You should also be aware of weight restrictions on bridges and height clearances under bridges and through the tunnels on your route. 3. Perform Pre-Trip Inspections Drivers are supposed to conduct a thorough check of their truck, trailer, and the load before starting a long haul. Nonetheless, a pre-trip inspection, even for a short trip, is necessary for your safety. Check for oil or coolant leaks running down the side of the engine. Carefully inspect shock absorbers, ball joints, and kingpins for wear and proper lubrication. Circle-check the vehicle to make sure all lights on the truck and trailer are working properly. Look over the entire vehicle for body damage. Make sure that vital parts such as engine, electric system, wipers, steering wheel, brakes, tire pressure, landing gear, and crank handle, among others, are functioning properly. Carry out repairs immediately. Click here to read about the most commonly overlooked pre-trip inspections. 4. Avoid Improper Loading The importance of avoiding improper loading can't be stressed enough. It is the leading cause of truck accidents. Improper loading can cause a truck to tip over, especially around sharp turns and curves. It can also lead to a mechanical failure, bringing the truck to an abrupt halt. The heavy load can also fall off the truck on the road, resulting in an accident. This is particularly dangerous if the truck is carrying hazardous cargo such as chemicals, metals, and highly inflammable products. 5. Change Lanes as Infrequently as Possible Changing lanes too frequently can increase the chances of an accident. When changing lanes, move over slowly and carefully. Make sure to check your mirrors and blind spots to avoid a potentially dangerous situation. Avoid changing lanes around curves or turns and during heavy traffic. The legal and financial consequences of a truck accident can be devastating. If you are in a truck accident, contact a local lawyer specializing in truck accident law as soon as possible. For example, if the accident took place in Albany, you should contact a Georgia truck injury attorney immediately to seek proper legal advice. 6. Avoid Drowsy Driving It is better to pull over and take a nap if you are feeling tired. Driver fatigue is a major cause of truck accidents. The bottom-line is that your drowsiness can contribute to an accident. So, make sure to get a good night's sleep before going for a long haul. You should also take regular breaks during the trip. In fact, according to the new hours-of-service safety regulations, truck drivers are required to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift. 7. Drive Cautiously around Curves Truck drivers should remember to slow down around curves and turns. A truck can easily tip over when taking a turn without maintaining a proper speed. Speed limits posted on curves and ramps are mostly meant for cars and light vehicles, certainly not for trucks. So, make sure to drive slower than the recommended speed limit. Drive with extra care at night, especially in tight maneuvering situations. 8. Use a Trucker's GPS Compared to car drivers, truckers have to face several driving challenges such as height, weight, and hazardous cargo restrictions, etc. Relying on a personal GPS can be potentially dangerous for truck drivers. A personal GPS will choose the shortest route without identifying truck-restricted roads. A trucker's GPS, on the other hand, can provide a comprehensive analysis of your route with detailed truck-specific mapping data. Sadly, truck accidents are a common occurrence in the United States. Because of the massive size of the commercial vehicles, truck accidents can be much more devastating than normal car crashes. A truck accident usually involves fatalities, severe injuries, traffic jams for long hours, and thousands of dollars in property damage. Big rig drivers are skilled and patient, but still are required to exercise extra precaution to avoid potentially dangerous collisions. These eight safety tips can keep truck drivers, as well as others, safe on the road.   (Image Source)

Zachary Shewmaker

Zachary Shewmaker

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