Community efforts, FMCSA regulations help mitigate potential truck accidents

Commercial vehicles are probably the most dangerous vehicles traversing the roadways today. An 18-wheeler can carry a maximum weight of 80,000 fully loaded. It's no wonder communities and policing authorities are cracking down on commercial truck drivers in order to prevent unnecessary truck accidents.

Community efforts

Community efforts all across the nation have been launched to help improve truck safety and mitigate injuries and fatalities caused by these massive vehicles.

Just last month, Operation Safe Driver was initiated. Sponsored by Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the program helped boost traffic enforcement related to big trucks. Such measures included increased seat belt regulation, roadside inspections and verification of all driver regulatory compliance.

The program also aimed to raise awareness within the community, including teens, about safety protocols to follow when trucks or buses are present. Brian Neal, Operation Safe Driver Program Chair, said "Operation Safe Driver is a call to action to step up our commitment for defeating distracted driving."

Another program launched in 2009, known as the Teens & Trucks Training Program, was also initiated to assist teen drivers about safe driving practices around commercial vehicles.

In 2010, another community effort, known as Defeating Distracted Driving was launched to educate truck and bus drivers about the dangers of distracted driving. This program was designed to be used by fleets and driving schools.

FMCSA Regulations

Along with proactive measures within the community, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)-the government agency responsible for regulating the U.S. commercial trucking industry in order to improve the safety of commercial trucks-continues to keep close tabs on the trucking industry.

Through the years, the FMCSA has implemented numerous safety regulations commercial truck drivers must follow.

For instance, truckers are required to follow strict hours of service regulations. HOS rules, as they are known, outline the time periods truck drivers are allowed to operate their vehicles, mandatory break periods, and penalties if found violating the HOS requirements.

Another rule requires all truck drivers pass rigorous medical exams every two years before being allowed to operate a commercial vehicle. This past spring, the FMCSA implemented a new rule requiring physicians conducting medical exams on truck drivers to obtain special certifications on the physical criteria that affect truck drivers' operation of a truck or vehicle. They will also be held responsible if they pass a truck driver who fails to meet the criteria implemented by the agency. The FMCSA hopes this will help physicians conduct proper exams-helping in overall efforts to mitigate auto accidents.