South Carolina drivers will likely be interested in learning about the effect that large truck crashes are having in the United States. In 2017, 4,102 people were killed in accidents involving large trucks. Seventeen percent of the fatalities were the occupants of the truck. Fourteen percent of the fatalities were pedestrians, motorcyclists or bicyclists. Sixty-eight percent of the fatalities were occupants of cars or passenger vehicles. These statistics represent a 28 percent increase in large truck-related crashes when compared to 2009.
Road safety advocacy groups in South Carolina and around the country have criticized the Department of Transportation's efforts to introduce rules designed to reduce truck accidents and save lives. They want trucking companies to switch on the speed limiters fitted to their vehicles and install emergency braking systems. The rules were proposed 12 years ago but have been mired in Congress ever since.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has reported that there was an increase each year from 2015 to 2017 in the percentage of fatal crashes that involved one or more large trucks. In particular, the percentage of fatal work zone accidents where at least one large truck was involved has gone up in each of those three years. Commercial truckers in South Carolina should know, however, that they have the ability to fight this upward trend.
Speed may be the biggest reason why there was an overall increase in large truck crash deaths between 2009 and 2017. Road Safe America has analyzed federal data showing such an increase in all but six states and found that most of the states with the largest increase have truck speed limits of 70 mph or more. Truckers in South Carolina should be aware that such speeds are unsafe for vehicles weighing over 80,000 pounds.
Fatal commercial motor vehicle crashes went up in 2017, according to the latest research by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. While there were 3,193 fatal CMV crash deaths in 2009, that number was 5,005 in 2017. The number of truck occupants killed also rose between those two years from 499 to 841. However, South Carolina residents should know that the majority of fatalities in both years were occupants of passenger automobiles.
Many South Carolina motorists are concerned about underride crashes, car accidents that take place when a car is trapped beneath a semi-trailer or other large truck. These crashes are often catastrophic, and hundreds of people lose their lives each year in this type of accident. Several federal lawmakers from both parties introduced a bill, the Stop Underrides Act of 2017, aimed at preventing these often-fatal collisions. The legislation would mandate that large trucks have underride guards on their sides and front. In addition, it would revise standards for rear underride guards.
Truck drivers and fleet owners in South Carolina should know about the benefits of advanced safety features like automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning systems and backup alarms. Some argue that while driverless technology may be making headlines, these more modest features are causing a quiet revolution by reducing the number of crashes, especially rear-end collisions.
Commercial vehicle accident fatalities throughout South Carolina and the rest of the country have reached levels not seen in 29 years, according to figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Some truck drivers and trucking industry groups say that federal hours of service regulations are at least partly to blame for the surge. The rules limit the amount of time that truck drivers can spend behind the wheel, but a growing number of industry voices say that this encourages reckless driving and causes deadly crashes.
Trucking accidents can be particularly devastating to other drivers and passengers on the road in South Carolina. Due to the size and weight of semi trucks, people in other vehicles may be more likely to suffer serious injuries or even lose their lives in a crash. Because truck driver fatigue can be deadly, various companies are working to develop technologies to detect fatigued drivers and prevent them from getting behind the wheel. Two developers with different kinds of technological experience have come together to develop a warning system that could help to stop crashes before they occur.
South Carolina readers know that poor vehicle maintenance can lead to car and truck accidents. However, some commercial truck drivers and companies fail to properly maintain their vehicles, which can endanger the public.