In 2013, 35 people died in motor vehicle accidents in Orange County. Of those deaths, four involved large trucks.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 118 people lost their lives in large truck accidents in New York in 2013. These could be collisions involve tractor-trailers, dump trucks, garbage trucks or other similar large vehicles.
In Orange County, four out of 35 accident fatalities resulted in crashes involving these vehicles. Ulster County was the only neighboring county to experience more truck accident fatalities than Orange County. In Ulster County, five people died in these crashes.
Looking back at previous years, Orange County residents can see a pattern of loss. In 2012 and 2010, the county experienced five deaths each in truck accidents. In 2011, three lives were lost in these types of wrecks. Another two deaths were recorded in 2009.
Can safety be improved?
While there may never be a way to eliminate all traffic accidents, including those with large trucks, the hope for a reduction does exist. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been wrestling with two different topics lately in order to do just this. Truck driver fatigue and truck driver impairment are both factors in some accidents and the agency is looking for ways to combat these.
Tackling the issue of fatigue
With long and often lonely hours spent on the road, truckers can become fatigued. It is for this reason that the FMCSA instituted new requirements for break times for all commercially licensed drivers in 2013. The agency’s goal was clear-to reduce fatigue among drivers.
Sadly, the effort was met with a high level of opposition. This opposition found its way to Congress which has since stayed the rules. Supply Chain Digest notes that the stay was issued to give the FMCSA more time to collect data on the need for and impact of the rules. OverdriveOnline.com further explains that more time to gather information could be allowed if necessary. In the meantime, the new rules are not in effect.
Tackling the issue of impairment
Fortunately the FMCSA has found more agreement within the industry about how to address drug and alcohol impairment. According to the Commercial Carrier Journal, a new process for screening and hiring drivers will include strict guidelines about substance testing. Any job applicant refusing to submit to such testing will not be able to be considered for a driving position.
Additionally, the Bulk Transporter notes that the FMCSA will test drivers on a random basis for drug or alcohol use.
What more can be done?
At some point, it is up to victims and loved ones to seek justice if an accident is caused by a large truck driver. Contacting a lawyer as soon as these tragic incidents occur is important.