Life in America is full of walking contradictions. As Michael Jackson’s death continues to captivate the news we seem to be completely ignoring the horrific semi accident that happened in Oklahoma on Friday. As a grim reminder, Newsok.com is reporting that the accident claimed its 10th victim today with the death of a 35 year old Texas woman. The website is also reporting that a 12 year old Arizona girl remains in critical condition with head and internal injuries in a Kansas City hospital. It is our hope that this courageous young lady recovers from her injuries to live a wonderful life. Our thoughts and prayers are with her.
In the coming days, investigators will try and figure out what went wrong and caused this 76 year old driver to plow into stalled traffic. However, as investigators attempt to sort through the wreckage, one thing ever person who drives an automobile should be reminded of is to pay the appropriate respect to the dangerous tractor-trailers. How often do we see people cutting these massive trucks off on the road and/or risking their lives in an attempt save a precious few minutes? This accident, if anything, should teach us the raw power these semis posses and the catastrophic damages they can cause.
· 5,374 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks in 1998, representing thirteen percent of all traffic fatalities. Of these, 78 percent were occupants of another vehicle, 14 percent were large truck occupants and 8 percent were non-occupants. An additional 123,000 people were injured in those crashes. (National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA)
· In 1997, large trucks made up three percent of all registered vehicles and seven percent of all vehicle miles traveled. Yet, large trucks constituted nine percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes, and four percent of all vehicles involved in injury and property-damage-only crashes that year. (NHTSA, 1999)
· In 1998, large trucks were more likely to be involved in a fatal multiple-vehicle crashes opposed to a single-vehicle crash than were passenger vehicles (84 percent of all large trucks in fatal crashes, compared with 62 percent of all passenger vehicles). (NHTSA, 1999)
· One out of eight traffic crash fatalities in 1998 was the result of a collision involving a large truck. (NHTSA, 1999)
· Most of the fatal crashes involving large trucks occur in rural areas (67 percent), during the day (68 percent) and on weekdays (80 percent). (NHTSA, 1999)
· A loaded tractor-trailer requires 20-40 percent further stopping distance than a car. With an empty trailer, the discrepancy between the truck and the car is even greater. (NHTSA, 1999)
· Of the trucks with out-of-service violations, more than one-third of them have problems with brakes. (Federal Highway Administration, 1998)
· All new tractors and trailers are required to have anti-lock brakes. Anti-lock braking systems are effective in preventing wheel lock and loss of steering in emergency stopping, especially on wet roads.
· Federal regulations allow drivers of large trucks to drive up to 16 hours a day. However, drivers under the regulations can compile 60 hours in less than five days by alternating ten hours of maximum permitted continuous driving with the minimum eight hours off duty. Surveys reveal that many drivers of large trucks violate the regulations on hours of service. Studies also show that driver fatigue plays a role in large truck crashes and that drivers are more likely to crash after many long hours of driving. (IIHS) The Department of Transportation is currently considering a revision of these hours-of-service rules.
· Almost 30 percent of large truck drivers involved in fatal crashes in 1998 had at least one prior conviction for speeding, compared to slightly less than 20 percent of the passenger vehicle drivers in fatal crashes. (NHTSA, 1999)