The enormous size of 18-wheelers or big rigs definitely create greater threats in the event of an accident. Compared to other vehicles, trucks also weigh more, thus requiring a longer stopping distance. But despite the risk these huge vehicles pose on the road, they cannot be disallowed to operate due to their major contribution in the nation’s economy. Trucks transport goods that keep businesses alive; limiting their operation will, therefore, greatly affect the business operation of many firms.
Often, these goods need to be delivered to another county, a task that would require very long driving hours. It is, therefore, normal for many truck drivers to be behind the wheel for more than 10 hours a day, thus, different government agencies make sure that, despite this long driving work requirement, drivers do not experience sleepiness and fatigue, and that the truck they drive are always in good condition.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and, most especially, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is primarily responsible in ensuring the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles (CMV), work together in making U.S. roads and highways safe from any accidents that would involve trucks. To attain the highest level of safety, these agencies have set and strictly enforce the following requirements:
- A special training and a test (prepared by the FHWA) will have to be undergone and passed by individuals before they can be issued a commercial driver’s license. These basic requirements are aimed at developing in truck drivers the required knowledge and skills in operating a truck safely;
- Strict observance of the “11 hours” maximum time of service. This means that truck drivers cannot drive for more than 11 hours. Drivers should also be given 10 consecutive off-duty hours after the completion of their daily duty;
- Trucking firms should keep a record that shows regular truck check and maintenance schedule;
- Drivers should thoroughly check and make sure that their vehicle’s braking system and tires are in good condition; they should also make sure that there are no air leaks in the truck’s brake chamber; and,
- Truck and truck parts manufacturers should make sure that everything they produce complies with the minimum standards enforced by the government.
To reduce the risk of truck accidents, the said agencies do not focus their attention on truck drivers and trucking companies only. They also constantly issue precautionary measures that drivers of smaller vehicles should observe, like avoiding blind spots, tailgating or driving too close behind a truck , and observing extra care in intersections
According to the Abel Law Firm, “Motor vehicle accidents occur at an alarming frequency. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Commission (NHTSC), a person dies every 13 minutes behind the wheel of a car. Large trucks, or 18 wheelers, are especially hazardous roadway companions. Their size and limited visibility make them a serious safety risk for nearby drivers and pedestrians.
A person who has been involved in an accident with a large truck, though, may be eligible to receive compensation for his/her losses.”