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Greg Webb
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Trucking Safety – One State Takes A Hard Look At What's On The Road

6 comments

Indiana State Police inspectors say approximately 25 percent of the trucks traveling on Indiana’s state highways in the state’s northwestern Lake and Porter counties, from 2003-2008 were beleaguered with serious safety defects risking the safety of travelers and truck drivers alike. In a January 8, 2012, article in The Northwest Indiana Times, Marc Chase reports “faulty brakes and driver fatigue top the truck safety risks” plaguing the Midwest trucks and truck drivers in Northwest Indiana according to the Indiana state police inspectors’ report.

Results of a six-year study of truck traffic through highways crossing only two Northwest Indiana counties, showed 1 out of 4 heavy trucks had major safety violations, i.e., violations serious enough to remove the trucks from service. Scott Fleming, supervisor of state police heavy-truck inspectors for the region, noted much of the data in the study were gathered through random checks at Indiana’s truck weighing stations and says the results “only scratch the surface of the safety problem of potentially unsafe trucks operating on region’s roadways.”

Federal and state police inspectors found 12,931 brake violations during the same study, placing brake-related violations in the top 10 of all violations. Any discussion of faulty brakes and trucks also involves stopping distances. Fleming explained, “The more the weight of a car or truck, the longer the distance required for it to stop.” According to the National Safety Council’s Defensive Driving Course for Professional Truck Drivers, a fully-loaded 80,000-pound truck traveling 65 miles per hour requires at least 525 feet to stop safely, which is 66 percent more distance than most automobiles, which require approximately 316 feet when traveling at 65 miles per hour to stop safely. And, if the truck is over-weight or has faulty brakes or both, do the math.

In addition to mechanical vehicle safety violations, the problem of driver fatigue was also high on the state police inspectors list of violations. By federal law, heavy-truck operators must complete logbooks recording their hours worked and all breaks. Federal regulations limit heavy-truck drivers to 11 hours of continuous driving within a 24-hour period before they must take a 10-hour break. The heavy-truck inspectors in the two Northwest Indiana counties recorded 10,376 violations related to missing or faulty driver log books or drivers who went over the federal standard for consecutive hours worked without a break. “In Northwest Indiana, more than 1,400 violations were recorded over six years for truckers operating their rigs beyond the 11-hour regulation, inspection records show.”

We have to wonder how much of a template the experience with truck safety of these two Northwest Indiana counties is for the rest of the U.S. Having experience with trucking cases and litigation, these problems are by no means unique to Indiana, or any one state. Because states do not have the money or manpower to enforce federal or state trucking safety regulations, it is incumbent upon the trucking companies to ensure their trucks are properly serviced and maintained, and that their drivers are qualified and observe safety procedures and regulations. Interstate commercial trucking companies are responsible for ensuring that they and their drivers follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Unfortunately, in an effort to save money, many do not abide by the rules all of the time, or even some of the time.

6 Comments

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  1. Truckie D says:
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    Here we go again.

    Death and Destruction! The gutters of the highways running red with the blood of innocent motorists killed by crazed truck drivers in defective trucks!

    Hmmm….what’s wrong with this picture? Wait just a minute. Oh yeah, the carnage seems to be missing.

    Fear-mongering doesn’t do much to improve highway safety.

    Due to comment length, please visit my blog and read: http://truckied.wordpress.com/2009/09/20/propaganda-is-an-ugly-word/

    td

  2. Pro Driver says:
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    I agree with the comment that if its so bad, if the truckers are so tired and sleep deprived, and there trucks are broken down menaces of the road, WHERE ARE THE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF ACCIDENTS, Nowhere because these arent facts there conclusions on percentages and blown out of proportion by the media and safety groups. Ive driven a truck for fifteen years, Ive never hadf a ticket, never a freaight claim, never failed a roadside inspection or scale inspection, Ive filled out all the paperwork, paid for all the Regulations and done a professional job. But I have to keep being beat up in the news who say were reckless, sleep deprived, crazy drivers of Road rage Overweight vehicles with bald tires and blood shot eyes, Where are the accidents that prove these figures. Yes there are accidents and a few bad apples, but the majority of us are hard working safe drivers who have YEARS of real road experience. Unlike many of the so called safety advocates or even police officers, or inspectors who have less time on the job, less training and less REAL WORLD experience then the TRUCKER. The Lowly Dirty unsafe crazy tired TRUCKER….BAH HUMBUG

  3. Pro Driver says:
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    “In Northwest Indiana, more than 1,400 violations were recorded over six years for truckers operating their rigs beyond the 11-hour regulation, inspection records show.”

    This is Ludicrous, not even 10 percent as each nite over 20,000 trucks may pass thru Indiana EACH NITE, Another puffed up example, and as far as Brake Inspections go, is 4/8 of an Inch going to prevent the 10 Brake systems on a truck from working, NO, Lets talk about the Autos that swerve into the braking gap a trucker leaves in front of his rig to allw safe distance, CARS thinks thats there cut off space , and they then jump into the braking zone and slam on the brakes, so how far does it take a truck to stop, I dont see signs of the highways telling Cars to leave 100 feet between them and a truck, are there any signs about this on the highways NO But the signs are on the backdoors of many of the trucks. GET THE FACTS STRAIGHT GREG !!!!

  4. Steve says:
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    I have over 2 years in over the road trucking and 27 years total including regional within 300 mile driving. Problem 1. You cannot drive a truck with a computer, none of these people making these rules have ever driven a truck. 2. No one wants to take the time to listen to the drivers that have been out here and have the actual experience of what goes on on the road. 3. Car drivers do not have to take the exam that a trucker has to take to get a cdl so they know nothing about how to drive around trucks, there is very little if any training required in reference to understanding how to drive around trucks such as not blocking a truck in by riding on the outside of the truck for any period of time either pass or backup in case of emergency…Leave me a way out.!!!!!!!! 4. The top two reason for car-truck accidents are A. One getting off exit ramps, when rather than slow down and drop in behind the truck giving signal and time for everyone to notice you need to get off, the car drivers would rather cut in front of the truck and have to hit their brakes in order to exit, and hopefully the ramp is not full otherwise the car now has to stop in the travel lane, ooops that was a bad idea!!!!!!!!”better call maaco”!!!B. You have the cars that are getting on the highway in let’s say a 65 mile hour zone, ok there are no options here you need to get up to 65 miles an hour, and or slow down until you are clear to merge. The flow of traffic is not gonna stop for you point and fact…..Greg i am sure you drive, just write down the points i made and observe them when ever you drive for the next 30 days, and then email me back what you see if you can handle the truth……

  5. Steve says:
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    CORRECTION: Sorry that is 22 years in over the road and 27 total

  6. Greg Webb says:
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    Truckie D, Pro Driver and Steve:

    Thank you for reading the blog and responding. I am happy someone, especially truck drivers, responded. I like hearing your side of the story. I actually agree with some of your points. Not all truck drivers, or operators, fail to play by the rules; in fact, many play by the rules and are very safe.

    Unfortunately, however, I have seen mangled and dead children, burned bodies, and crushed bodies in my many years of handling cases involving trucking crashes. I have seen quite a few drivers and operators driving beyond their hours, doctoring their logs, doctoring their maintenance records, not performing pre-trip inspections, and on and on and on. I have also seen several instances of truck drivers bullying motorists on the highway – one driver actually rammed a lady in her Subaru and forced her off of the road. I, therefore, have a different view than you gentleman.

    I have had to deal with parents who sent their beautiful daughter off to school one nice spring morning for an exam, only to learn 90 minutes later that she had been killed by a tractor driver who ran a red light; his light was red for 4 seconds; his yellow light for 5 seconds. His shift was over in 20 minutes and he was a mile away. The stop light was on a hill, and stopping on a hill is a pain for a truck driver. Two of his brakes were out of service, but that did not really matter because he never hit his brakes until impact. And this driver had a CDL and knew better. That’s a side of the story I see.

    My experiences with trucking cases makes me question what is happening on the road with many operators and their emphasis, or lack thereof, on safety. That is why I published this article. Perhaps safety should be emphasized more – or it should be the main emphasis for the entire trucking industry.