Among the ten entries in the 2016 Most Wanted List of safety improvements put forth by the National Transportation Safety Board are four that potentially address the ability of truck drivers to operate their vehicles safely. The following goals are all known issues in the commercial trucking industry:
- Reduce fatigue-related accidents
- Disconnect from deadly distractions
- End substance impairment in transportation
- Require medical fitness for duty
In each case, the NTSB specifically discusses commercial drivers or lists a trucking accident among the Related Accidents connected to the goal.
Fatigued Truck Drivers
The NTSB has made a number of recommendations over the years regarding fatigued driving. The group has pushed for changes to hours-of-service regulations designed to encourage truck drivers to maintain schedules that allow for sufficient sleep. In addition, the NTSB is calling for all interstate commercial vehicle carriers to put electronic logging devices on their vehicles to better monitor driver compliance with hours-of-service regulations.
In addition to changes in technology, the NTSB is pushing commercial carriers to make cultural changes to reduce fatigue. It is asking carriers to establish fatigue risk management programs. These programs would include more than hours-of-service compliance. They would cover areas such as medical screening, scheduling practices and education about fatigue and its impact on safe driving.
Fatigue is an issue that affects all drivers, not just those in the trucking industry. Still, many of the recommendation put forth by the NTSB specifically target truck drivers. If implemented, the changes recommended by the Board could reduce the number of deadly truck accidents and make the roads safer for everyone.
Sources: National Transportation Safety Board, “Reduce Fatigue-Related Accidents,” January 2016; Land Line, “No. 1 on NTSB’s ‘Top 10’ wish list: Reduce tired trucker crashes,” by Greg Grisolano, 18 January 2016