Missouri motorists have good cause to worry about crashes that involve semi trucks. Because of their size and weight, accidents involving large trucks have the potential to cause serious personal injuries and devastating consequences.
In regards to the trucking industry, increased sleep apnea testing and mandatory speed limiters were both being considered by the Department of Transportation last year. However, the DOT has indicated that it will not continue to pursue rule making on those two issues. This information might be of interest to Missouri drivers as both issues can become factors that lead to traffic accidents.
Starting in February 2020, truck drivers in Missouri and around the country who apply for their CDL will have to receive training from a provider on a FMCSA-approved list. The new rule took effect on June 5, and it has a compliance window of nearly three years. Drivers will need behind-the-wheel training in addition to classroom and road time.
Carriers in Missouri and other states across the nation may soon require more truck drivers to be tested for sleep apnea after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case related to the issue in April 2017. It was brought by a driver who claimed that one carrier's required testing for the medical condition violated his rights. With less fear of having to defend the decision in court following the rejection of the appeal, more companies may require sleep tests for drivers.
Each year, Missouri residents are seriously injured or killed in collisions with large trucks. Some of these crashes occur when people's cars go underneath the sides of the trucks, crushing the cars underneath. A study has demonstrated that the installation of side underride guards would help to prevent these often deadly accidents.
Data from 2015's Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts report indicates that the number of large trucks involved in crashes has increased significantly. Nearly 3,600 large trucks, those weighing over 10,000 pounds, were involved in fatal accidents in 2015. The study, which was conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, also indicates that the number of accidents per 100 million vehicle miles traveled rose as well as truck occupant fatalities.
Tractor-trailer inspectors will be busy in Missouri and across the country for 72 hours beginning on June 6 during the International Roadcheck safety initiative organized by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. More than 60,000 semi-tractor trailers were inspected during the event in 2016, and CVSA says that truck drivers can expect the same sort of scrutiny this year.
Starsky Robotics is a San Francisco-based company that believes it has found a way to put more automated commercial trucks on the road. Commercial trucks that are self-driving are normally equipped with cameras and radar that allow a computer program to pilot them through highway and road traffic. However, these programs don't seem to be up to the task of navigating trucks to loading bays in Missouri and around the country.
On Feb. 1, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published a notice that officially delayed the starting date of a new rule establishing truck training standards in Missouri and across the United States. The move was prompted by a Jan. 20 memorandum from President Trump ordering federal agencies to delay or freeze new rules.
A study released in 2013 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that in 2011, more than 600,000 drivers around the country were looking at their cellphone screens instead of watching the road at any given moment during daylight hours. The number of distracted drivers has likely since grown even higher, and the NHTSA has called on smartphone manufacturers to incorporate features that would severely restrict how Missouri motorists are able to use their products while behind the wheel.