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Angel L. Reyes, III
Angel L. Reyes, III
Contributor •

Are US Roads Filled With Unsafe Trucks?

3 comments

You’ve been driving for ten hours. You’re tired, you’re hungry, and busloads of school children won’t stop trying to get you to honk your horn. Cars are passing you every two minutes, but you don’t even see them until they’re right next to you. You’re under a deadline, but if you get a speeding ticket, it could mean your job. Not only that, but you’re behind the wheel of a massive 18 wheeler.

The stress, tension, and fatigue of constant driving all add up for those who make a living on the road. Driving conditions are often poor for overworked drivers. However, add to that the unsafe practices allowed or encouraged by many trucking companies and you have a recipe for roadway disasters. Truck safety is a serious problem in the United States, where 12% of vehicular fatalities involve trucks. This year in Texas alone there were 493 truck-related deaths. This is more than 35% more than the number of fatalities in any other state. It seems that for Texas especially, increased attention to trucking safety regulations would make the roads substantially safer for all drivers.

Currently, many trucking companies violate safety standards in order to cut costs. Some practices include overloading shipments, hiring unqualified drivers at cheaper wages, ignoring general maintenance on tires, wheels, and brakes, and encouraging drivers to travel faster and spend more than the allowed number of hours driving. These kinds of practices lead to more than 4,000 deaths and 80.000 injuries on the road each year.

In an investigation of the trucking industry, the American Association for Justice determined that, of the 9 million trucks on U.S. roadways, over 211,000 fail to meet the minimally expected standards of safety. To address this serious problem, safety regulations were reinforced in June 2009 by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. The CVSA conducted inspections, of which they notified trucking companies in advance, and still found over 22% of the trucks unfit for safe operation. About half of the unsafe trucks had brake problems. Alarmingly, the industry regarded these results as a success, citing a “deep commitment to the safety of all motorists”.

It is unrealistic to think that we will be able to completely eradicate truck accidents, but according to these results, many are easily preventable. The trucking industry must be held accountable for putting the public at risk through carelessness and disregard for safety. Better safety standards and a strict enforcement of those standards are needed to promote public safety and keep the death toll at a minimum.

3 Comments

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  1. Mike Bryant says:
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    They are way to big not to be a concern. They need to drive healthy and safe. Very good information.

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    As a cross-country driver who grew up taking road trips, I’ve had my close encounters with big rigs. I honor their profession – the country would be in harder straits without their presence. For so many, truck stops are too often the closest thing to home and I’m not necessarily suggesting yoga mats next to the showers and tv room, but there are ways to help yourself, safely, simply and naturally fight fatigue and boredom plus ease sore muscles.

    Drivetime Yoga features small stretches and breathing techniques adapted from yoga by a certified Yoga teacher with help from a physical therapist / ergonomist who works with professional drivers. Now police officers, sales people and families are using Drivetime Yoga. It’s available as a book or cd and there’s a free test drive at: http://www.DrivetimeYoga.com. Enjoy, Elaine Masters, RYT