The National Transportation Safety Board has made 19 total recommendations across several Transportation Department agencies. Some of the suggested changes stem from the NTSB investigation of a deadly 2011 crash in which a semi-truck hit an Amtrak train. That wreck claimed the lives of 6 people and left many more injured.
A longstanding Department of Transportation policy requires people with a commercial driver's license to get a medical physical every other year to maintain that license. The goal of the policy is to prevent, or at least minimize bus and truck crashes that result from a medical emergency of the driver. Questions about the effectiveness of that policy have led to new federal regulations set to take effect next year. The new policy will restrict which medical providers can sign off on a DOT physical by requiring them to go through a certification process. The certification will ensure that the provider understands the medical requirements set by the DOT and will know what needs to be done to test the driver's health condition.
The National Transportation Safety Board announced that it will release its 2013 Most Wanted List next Wednesday, November 14, at a press conference in Washington D.C. The Most Wanted List highlights the NTSB's advocacy priorities for the year. Generally speaking, the list is meant to increase the attention paid to issues involving transportation accidents and safety. The list is accompanied by safety recommendations that the NTSB believes would save lives if adopted.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released a study of all the motor vehicle crashes that occurred in 2010. According to that study, distracted driving was a contributing factor in 10 percent of fatal crashes. In addition, distracted driving was cited as a factor in 18 percent of the total crashes where someone suffered an injury. The study further broke down the numbers for cars, light trucks and large trucks. In crashes involving all vehicle types, cell phone use was a prevalent factor.
After a truck accident, trucking companies may choose to take action against a truck driver who failed to perform his or her duties in a safe manner. New technology may allow fleet operators predict future driver behavior and take steps before a truck accident even occurs. Predictive analytics software can use information regarding a driver's past behavior, including information gathered from onboard computers, GPS tracking systems, citations and accident reports, and use it to determine the safety risks a particular driver might pose.
New regulations were proposed last May concerning the installation of anti-rollover systems in buses and heavy duty trucks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicated that rollover accidents cause roughly 700 traffic deaths per year. NHTSA researchers estimated that electronic stability control systems would prevent thousands of crashes and between 49 and 60 fatalities every year. The regulations called for the installation of these devices with two to four years. Truck makers are now pushing back and requesting that the requirements for meeting the new standard be scaled back.
Putting a stop to texting and driving is a top priority among many safety experts. Several devices claim to be able to prevent people from engaging in this form of distracted driving. A device developed at an Indian university is taking the fight against texting and driving to a new level.
The AAA released a forecast this week indicating that there will be more travelers on the road this week than at any time in the last decade. The increase in drivers is said to come from the fact that the Fourth of July falls on a Wednesday this year, giving many people extra days in which to travel. If the estimated 40.3 million drivers materialize, the increase in accident rates that always attends the Fourth of July could lead to numerous car and truck accidents.
Sleep apnea is a health condition that prevents its sufferers from getting sufficient restful sleep. When it strikes a truck driver, sleep apnea can make it difficult to get enough sleep to keep up with a typical commercial trucking schedule. The result can be an increase in truck accidents caused by drowsy driving. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has therefore decided to recommend stricter standards for commercial carriers in identifying and addressing the problem of sleep apnea. The FMCSA is concerned that the current efforts to evaluate and treat drivers for sleep apnea are insufficient.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, every year approximately 100 construction workers are killed in roadway work zones around the nation. On Tuesday morning, a semi truck failed to merge into the left lane quickly enough and chose to drive around a Department of Transportation arrow truck by going onto the right shoulder. He struck and killed a 55-year-old Highland man who was at work repairing the shoulder on I-39. The fatal construction accident is a grim reminder of the hazards faced by the workers who build and maintain Illinois' roads.