FMCSA: Crash prevention to focus on new tech, old-fashioned enforcement
J. J. Keller’s Motor Carrier Safety Report
With truck and bus crash deaths on the rise, federal regulators plan to rely on new technology and targeted enforcement to stem the tide, according to the chief safety officer of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
“We have to do a better job” at preventing crashes, said the agency’s Jack Van Steenburg, speaking January 9 at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board in Washington, D.C.
Part of the solution will be encouraging local law enforcement officers to pull over trucks and buses when they see violations, even if they aren’t specialized in CMV enforcement.
“We’re trying to have law enforcement overcoming their fears,” Van Steenburg said.
The FMCSA intends to focus more resources on 10 states that accounted for 51 percent of all truck and bus fatalities in 2016: Texas, California, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, New York, Illinois, and Tennessee.
Florida alone saw a 51 percent increase in such fatalities between 2014 and 2016, rising from 207 to 313, according to the DOT.
The FMCSA also plans to address work zone safety in coming years. Part of that plan involves more grants to deploy notification systems that alert truck and bus drivers to upcoming work zones.
In 2016, 27 percent of fatal work zone crashes involved at least one truck, Van Steenburg noted, compared to 11 percent of all fatal crashes involving at least one truck. In other words, trucks are over-represented in work zone crashes.
Other crash prevention strategies the FMCSA has in its toolkit for 2018 and beyond, according to Van Steenburg:
Successful implementation of the electronic logging device (ELD) and drug/alcohol clearinghouse rules.
A train-the-trainer curriculum and more grants to states to increase traffic enforcement.
Working with state driver licensing agencies to make sure drivers’ licenses are suspended when required.
Acceleration of the deployment of advanced driving technologies.
Van Steenburg also has a simple message for CMV drivers who want to survive crashes: “Wear seat belts.” Though seat belt use is on the rise, about 40 percent of the 722 truck drivers who died in traffic crashes in 2016 were not belted.
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