As with all motor vehicles, drivers of 18-wheelers have rules and regulations to follow regarding safety. In 2017, there were over 12 million large trucks registered in the United States.
Truck crash statistics show that in 2017 over 107,000 accidents involved injuries. In addition, in the same year, over 4,600 truck accidents caused fatalities; in Louisiana, there were 102. Speeding and impairment, such as fatigue, are in the top five reasons for commercial truck fatalities. Below are the federal regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration pertaining to those causes.
Speeding accounts for nearly one-fifth of all fatal truck accidents. In 2018, the FMCSA reported almost 147,000 speeding violations. When the Electronic Logging Device Mandate went into effect, speeding increased, according to the authors of a study regarding the use of ELDs.
The U.S. Department of Transportation implemented the mandate to try to decrease accidents due to driver fatigue. The study shows that instead of the reduction expected, there was no change. This may be because of the increase in unsafe driving–speeding–because of productivity losses.
In Part 383 of FMCSA’s Transportation Title 49, drivers of 18-wheelers must understand the effects of speed in certain situations such as:
- Speed and stopping distance
- Speed and surface conditions
- Speed and visibility
- Speed and traffic flow
Penalties for commercial truck drivers who speed in excess of 15 mph over the posted limit include:
- 60-day license suspension after two convictions
- 120-day license suspension after three convictions
In 2017, 4% of fatalities in 18-wheeler accidents occurred because of an impairment. Of that, 1% was because of fatigue or falling asleep. As part of the FMCSA safety regulations, there is a focus on fatigue and awareness. Practices include:
- How to avoid fatigue when driving
- What to do when becoming sleepy while driving
FMCSA sets strict guidelines for the hours of service of an 18-wheeler driver. Violation of the HOS may include both civil and criminal penalties.