Trucking is an integral part of commerce in our nation, allowing produce grown in California to reach store shelves in Maine. However, there is no denying that it takes special care to operate a fully-loaded semi-truck. Truckers must have a special license showing they are trained to operate these behemoth vehicles. In addition, there are rules in place regarding how long a trucker can be on the road before being required to take a rest break, to prevent drowsy driving. Why all these rules? It is because an accident involving an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer has the potential to be catastrophic.
This blog has previously discussed the hazards tired truck drivers present to Bay Area motorists. On many occasions, truckers operate while too tired because they are rushing to get a load delivered, sometimes for profit and, at other times, because they feel pressure from their employers to do so.
Truck driver fatigue is a problem on the roads in Alameda County, particularly on the interstates and other major highways that are busy commercial delivery routes. According to one government statistic, over 13 percent, more than 1 in 10, drivers involved in a crash were considered fatigued.
Many people in the Bay Area probably know that a person who operates a vehicle when their blood alcohol content is over .08 is running the risk of serious penalties. For the average driver, .08 is considered legally drunk in California, and someone who chooses to drive while drunk may face a criminal charge. And, if they cause an accident, they may be held financially accountable to those who suffer injuries.
One of the most famous highways in California, perhaps second only to the famous Pacific Coast Highway, is Interstate 5. This freeway passes through several major California centers as it effectively bisects the state lengthwise on its way from the Mexican border all the way up to close to Canada.
Most motorists in the San Francisco and greater Bay Area probably know that inattentive or distracted driving is a bad idea even when one is operating their private car. In some cases, someone who is just drifting off or is on one's phone can completely miss that the vehicle in front of them has come to a complete stop and slam into that vehicle's rear bumper. No doubt, there have been other cases in which a driver has a close call, realizing just in the nick of time that they are about to have an accident and are able to slam on the brakes.
Truck driver fatigue is a serious safety hazard for drivers traveling on the highways and other roads in Alameda and the greater Bay Area. A driver who is too tired to operate a large truck safely can easily cause a truck accident, as his or her mind will tend to wander from the task at hand, even if the driver manages to physically stay awake. In some cases, the behavior of a fatigued driver may even resemble that of a trucker who is driving while drunk or on drugs.
A driver's negligence behind the wheel is frequently a factor in car accidents. When looking at truck accidents, however, it's possible that a driver may do everything right while out on the road and still cause a collision due to a different kind of negligence. We're talking about negligent truck maintenance.
Congress is currently considering a bill that would require trucks to have bars along the sides and front of the vehicle. These bars are designed to help reduce the risk of accidents.
California drivers may benefit from recently announced rear-end collision avoidance technology from truck component companies ZF and WABCO. ZF is known for its electro-hydraulic steering system while WABCO is recognized for its OnGuard active braking technology. The new Evasive Maneuver Assist system will build on the strengths of both companies to help reduce the prevalence and severity of trucking accidents in the future.