Anytime large vehicles occupy the same space as pedestrians and bicyclists, bad things can happen. When a fatality occurs, it is usually because an individual falls into the exposed space along the sides of high-clearance trucks and get crushed beneath the rear wheels. On construction and mining sites, companies are able to limit the interactions between people and trucks. On the average road or city street, though, such control is virtually impossible. The combination of truck blind spots and distracted driving, walking, and even bicycling is a recipe for disaster. For decades, many countries have had ordinances in place that require large vehicles to be equipped with side guards covering this open space along the sides of vehicles. Only in the last few years have these ordinances started to appear in cities across the U.S., but there is growing momentum.
Safety is paramount to the manufacturers of heavy duty equipment and automobiles today. Innovation is driving the car industry to go well beyond the simplicity of seat belts and automatic brake systems. More and more, advanced technological systems are becoming common place in our cars, trucks, and transportation equipment.
The trucking industry is on the brink of disruption. It is hanging precariously between “the future is now” and “the good ‘ol days.”
Recently, PRECO was honored to attend the annual Trucking Summit. A two day event filled with face-to-face conversations with trucking industry executives. We were able to sit down with many of these professionals and discover what was keeping these men and women up at night.
Trucking companies and truck drivers must cope with a variety of working conditions, including variable weather and traffic conditions, boredom, and in-cab distractions. Add the problem of sharing the road with erratic drivers and you have a recipe for a potential tragedy.
The transportation industry logged 279.1 billion miles in 2014 according to American Trucking Associations’, with over 400,000 truck accidents each year. More than 70% of these accidents are the fault of the NON-commercial driver, with only 16% due to the truck driver's fault. These statistics just address incidents with other moving vehicles.
Despite improvements in safety training, the number of accidents and fatalities as a result of collisions between motorcyclists, pedestrians or cyclists and commercial trucks & buses has remained high over the past 30 years – even increasing in our biggest cities. In the USA alone there were 587 such deaths in 1989, 519 in 1999, and 531 in 2014, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Efforts by commercial fleets to improve vehicle safety are counteracted by more traffic and an increase in driver distraction – e.g. the use of handheld devices. It seems like people would rather scroll through their social media feed than pay attention to where they’re walking or driving.
A stronger economy, lower unemployment rates, and better gas prices have put more people on U.S. roadways, causing motor vehicle fatalities to rise by 9% in the first half of 2016. The National Safety Council estimates that 19,100 people have been killed over the road since January, and 2.2 million were seriously injured. What’s more, this Labor Day was predicted to be the deadliest holiday period since 2008, according to the NSC.
Other factors, including distracted driving, have contributed to the rise in over the road accidents. Side collisions with trucks from lane changes have increased on busier highways. Congested urban areas are seeing a rise in struck-by side collisions from turns and lane changes, especially with pedestrians and cyclists. The economy might look rosier, but the roadways do not, especially for the most vulnerable road users—those on foot and bikes.
Merriam-Webster defines a platoon as “… two or more squads usually led by one lieutenant.” Change “squads” to “trucks” and “lieutenant” to “driver” and you’ve got the definition of what is currently taking the trucking world by storm.
Platooning isn’t a new concept, but recent advances have made it a viable, cost-savings transportation option for trucking fleets in the not-so-distant future.
Being in and around moving vehicles, regardless of their size, has inherent dangers built in. Today’s highways and city streets are more congested than ever, with a heavy mix of traffic interacting with bicycles and pedestrians.
Add in distracted driving—which has been on the rise—and you’ve got a recipe for potential disaster. Sadly, accidents and fatalities on highways involving trucks, and those in cities involving pedestrians and bicyclists colliding with trucks, have been on the rise.