Trucking accidents may be some of the worst vehicle accidents that can occur. Because of their size and weight, the damage they can do in a crash can be devastating. To protect the public, trucking companies are required to have safety reviews for both their big rigs and their drivers.
Unfortunately, an estimated 20% of commercial rigs that submit to these mandated state and federal reviews are found to have serious safety issues. When this occurs, they must be removed from the road and cannot be driven until the necessary repairs are made.
On the plus side, the percentage of drivers that are pulled from driving big trucks is at a lower rate.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s SAFER System
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) offers trucking company safety data to industry and the public over the internet as part of their Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) System. Some of the information is only available to specifically authorized individuals, including law enforcement personnel.
As a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), FMCSA, which governs the trucking industry, offers this information to increase roadway safety, reduce motorist delays and air pollution, and to improve the overall productivity of commercial vehicle operation.
SAFER maintains data on a particular trucking company’s history and safety records. The data includes information about inspections, accidents, and the overall safety and fitness score of a particular trucking company, including their drivers. The data is normally updated either daily or weekly, depending on the type of information requested.
One very important feature of the SAFER system is that it supports electronic screening of commercial vehicles in order to allow law enforcement personnel to focus their efforts on those rigs most likely to fail inspection.
FMCSA Trucking Regulations
All big rigs have to obey the following FMCSA rules in order to be in compliance with federal standards:
- Truckers may not drive for longer than 11 hours without a 10-hour rest break
- Drivers cannot drive a 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty from a 10-hour rest break
- A driver cannot operate their vehicle for more than 60-70 hours within 7-8 consecutive days
- Drivers who use a sleeper berth must take at least 8 consecutive hours rest in the berth
- Gross vehicle weight may not exceed 80,000 lbs.
- Trucks may carry up to 20,000 lbs. per axle
Arkansas Trucking Regulations
In our state, the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) maintains federal trucking laws and regulations to help keep all drivers and passengers on the road as safe as possible. The AHTD also enforces state laws relating to the legal dimensional limits and overweight and oversized loads of big rigs.
Such federal and state oversight is essential to prevent unnecessary trucking accidents caused by poorly maintained vehicles, or those trucks not in compliance with safety standards. Those laws and regulations also ensure that truckers are not operating a vehicle while fatigued or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and that they have the knowledge and experience necessary to operate their truck safely.
Safety tips for driving around large trucks
I cannot impress upon you enough just how important it is to take precautions around trucks on the road, as the damage from an accident with a large truck can be incalculable. Never pass a truck on the right, never tailgate a truck, don’t driver in a trucker’s blind spot, don’t drive alongside a big rig (pass them or pull back), and always remember that if you can’t see their mirrors, they can’t see you!
Please, stay safe out there!
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