Articles Posted in Preventing Truck Accidents

We’ve all had the experience: you’re driving on the road and you get stuck behind a large truck, such as an 18-wheeler or big rig. You may not feel comfortable driving behind larger vehicle, knowing that the truck driver probably can’t see you. But how can you safely drive around the large truck? Each year, truck accidents in Hollywood and other communities in Florida are caused by drivers who can’t see around larger vehicles and by truck drivers who can’t see cars in their blind spots. The visibility issues large tankers and tractor trailers cause on our roads is a serious concern.

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We all know big rigs and tractor trailers have lots of blind spots, but at least one company is considering designing “see-through trucks” to reduce the risk of collisions. These trucks, developed by Samsung, are not actually see-through. Instead, they have large screens on the back of the truck, showing passenger car drivers behind the truck exactly what the truck driver sees in front of them. A camera in the truck’s cab streams a front-of-the-truck view to the screen in real time.

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Highway driving in Hollywood and South Florida can be more dangerous than meandering drives along rural or residential streets. On highways, the speeds are faster and there is more traffic. Exits and ramps may pop up suddenly, meaning you may find yourself suddenly needing to cut across traffic.

One of the big dangers with highways and freeways, of course, is that they mean you share the road with other vehicles, including tankers, big rigs, and tractor trailers delivering cargo from city to city and even to other states. Driving between two large trucks isn’t just intimidating; it is riskier. Large commercial trucks can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds fully loaded and the multiple blind spots mean drivers might not see and could crush your smaller passenger vehicle.

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The trucking industry in Hollywood and South Florida is responsible for significant economic contributions and creates many jobs in the area. Large trucks bring consumer products to stores, haul raw materials and products from the port of Miami, and otherwise transport the goods we all rely on across the state and around the country.

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While the trucking industry is important, there’s also no doubt it causes severe injuries each year. Truckers have one of the most dangerous jobs in the country, and their rate of workplace injury is higher than that of most industries. In addition, more than 80,000 Americans are injured each year in trucking accidents and more than 4000 each year are killed in commercial truck collisions.

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At this time of year, there may be more truck traffic at your home. You may be getting home décor items delivered, getting new furniture for entertaining, or getting someone to help with outdoor decorations. Many delivery drivers are busier than ever at this time of year and many service trucks are also on the road for longer hours as more of us get ready for the season.

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Increased delivery truck traffic is not all bad; it can actually be safer for you. Getting someone to hang your holiday lights for you, for example, can help you avoid the risk of a serious fall injury. Having a store deliver large items (such as furniture) is also much safer than trying to squeeze large items in your car until your visibility is compromised.

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News agencies have reported that autonomous, driver-less trucks will be on Florida roads before 2016. According to news reports, these will be the first self-driving trucks to see wide-spread use on US highways. The trucks will be equipment with sensors, lights, and read-end crash barriers. The vehicles will follow a lead car and use GPS waypoints.

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It all means you likely won’t see a truck without anyone driving it navigating the roads alone. Instead, what you’ll likely see is a crash truck working alongside a construction crew. One truck will be operated by a professional truck driver and the rest of the trucks will follow in line. These trucks will have clear signs to help alert you. The highly visible trucks are known as crash trucks and they help protect highway crews from pedestrian accidents.

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Is $500 a lot of money? That’s about the cost of an anti-collision system for big rigs, tractor trailers, and commercial trucks. These devices work simply: they gather and interpret data from around the truck and engage the brakes if the truck driver can’t or doesn’t brake in time to avoid a crash. According to manufacturers and some safety experts, anti-collision system can stop accidents or can reduce the speed and therefore the severity of a crash.

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Anti-collision systems are sometimes called mitigation braking or forward collision avoidance or F-CAM systems. They make use of cameras and sensors to gather information about traffic and speed around a truck. If a collision is imminent, the system warns a truck driver with a sound. If the driver does not respond, the system engages the brakes. Currently, about 3% of commercial tractor-trailers on American roads have the devices installed.

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At the Omnitracs Outlook User Conference last month, professionals in the trucking industry gathered together to discuss the ways that they have used technology to comply with the Federal Motor Carriers Association’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program. According to participants, technology played a major role in promoting safety, especially when truck carriers and fleets used:

1) Automated driver logs.

Rather than asking drivers to maintain logs, automated logs take care of the paperwork. They provide a more accurate view of how long truckers drive and the rest stops they take. Traditional driver logs can be easily falsified or can come into question during legal action. Automated driver logs take driver error out of the equation and ensure that the logs are always up to date.

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Truck drivers in Homestead and other communities rely on roads to get them safely to their destinations. When infrastructure is poorly designed or manufactured, road design issues could cause trucking accidents. Trucks can also put additional pressure on the roads due to their heavy cargo, so that when roads are built poorly trucks can cause quite a bit of damage.

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Engineers and city planners are always trying to develop infrastructure and roads that will provide a safe surface for drivers while also offering other benefits. Many experts in the industry are excited about the idea of smart roads, or roads that have embedded technology in order to help prevent accidents, enforce laws, and gather information. Some experts feel that smart roads and highways are the future in Homestead and the rest of Florida.

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Truck drivers need to learn more than the average passenger car driver. There are federal rules that commercial drivers must obey and paperwork that must be completed by drivers. Since drivers also drive much heavier machinery and are responsible for some basic inspections and maintenance, they need to learn how to handle many types of tasks on the road. In addition, drivers need to learn a great deal about road safety so that they can avoid trucking collisions in Hollywood and other communities they visit.

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The challenge with truck training has traditionally been that road training can only show truck drivers so much. If a driver is training in Hollywood or anywhere in South Florida, for example, it is difficult to teach the driver how to handle driving in snow or on ice – even if a driver will eventually be driving all over North America and needs to know how to deal with winter weather. Some scenarios – such as near-misses – are also difficult to recreate safely.

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Commercial truck drivers operating 18-wheelers, tankers, big rigs, and other commercial trucks must pass special commercial driver’s license training programs and tests. The tests and training are intended to make these motorists safer on the roads and aim to prevent collisions. In an effort to reduce trucking collisions in Miami and other cities, some safety advocates have been recommending changes be made to the commercial driver licensing programs to ensure that they provide the best measure of training to make drivers safe.

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has also announced a study of the commercial license programs. Recently, the agency studies the use of simulators in the training and testing of commercial drivers. The FMCSA compared four types of training, including CDL-focused training (which just focuses on giving drivers enough information to pass the road test), informal training (which is not structured and not intended for certification), conventional training (which involves 44 hours of road training and 104 hours of training the classroom) and simulator training (which involves having at least 60% of road training performed on a simulator). Study results showed that simulator training and conventional training resulted in significantly higher test scores when drivers had to actually pass their licensing tests.

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