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Trucking Fatalities: A Very Real Issue in Oklahoma

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Fatigue Among Oklahoma Drivers Cannot Be Ignored

Truck drivers perform a vital function for our society on a daily basis by transporting goods, food and a variety of other items across the country. Without these drivers, countless businesses would be unable to operate. But these drivers also happen to be on the road for long hours at a time. Needless to say, a huge truck and an overworked and exhausted driver can be a recipe for deadly disaster.

Fatalities resulting from large truck crashes are a particularly big problem in Oklahoma. According to a safety coalition report, Oklahoma is one of deadliest states for large-truck crashes. From 2007-09, there were 263 truck-related fatalities.

A tragic crash last year demonstrated the very real danger of having fatigued drivers on the roads. On June 26, 2009, Donald Creed, a 77-year old, was driving a tractor-trailer on Will Rogers Turnpike when he crashed and killed 10 people. The crash was a terrible tragedy, but even more tragic was the fact that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the crash could have been prevented. It was determined that the driver was likely suffering from fatigue at the time of the crash. According to the NTSB, Creed had started driving at 3 a.m. on the day of the crash and was operating on less than five hours sleep. He had reported excessive daytime sleepiness and loud snoring earlier that month. Creed also had mild sleep apnea. Crashes like this occur all too often in Oklahoma, which begs the question, what can be done to prevent accidents like this?

What Can People Driving on the Highways Do? People driving on highways in Oklahoma need to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings. If you see a truck driver swerving or appearing physically fatigued it is crucial to contact authorities as soon as possible. But while those measures can be effective, it is larger-scale measures that Oklahoma drivers need to support. Only then will there be the potential to combat the dire problem of truck driver fatigue and for truck-related fatalities to dramatically decrease.

Melton Trucking, a Tulsa trucking company, has implemented some measures and is in the process of trying out new technology that drivers throughout Oklahoma should vigorously support. Melton is making sure their drivers are in good physical condition by monitoring their employees through blood tests and allowing truckers to work out with a certified wellness coordinator. In fact, Melton turned what used to be a smoking room into a workout room. In addition, Melton is test driving new technology to keep track of how much time drivers have been behind the wheel. It has also upgraded its trucks to include technology that provides alerts to drivers if they veer out of their lanes.

Drivers on Oklahoma highways should be as vigilant and alert as possible looking for and reporting fatigued drivers. However, trucking companies need to take steps to keep their truck drivers in good physical condition, track the schedules of their drivers and implement new technologies. Without that type of concerted and dedicated effort to prevent fatigued drivers from causing massive casualties, the roads will not be a safe place to drive.