The pandemic had an initial stalling effect on truck fatalities from 2019 to 2020. Fewer people were driving, and many remained indoors due to shelter-in-place requirements. However, as the pandemic drudged on, e-commerce activity increased exponentially. Truck drivers had to keep up with customer expectations and deliver emergency relief supplies while adhering to their hours of service (HOS) limitations.
Early data indicates 2021 had an increase in truck-related deaths compared to 2020, and many of those crashes were avoidable. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) held an annual forum to discuss leading safety concerns. Compared to last year’s forum, the risks discussed rang familiar:
- Truck occupant fatalities
- Distracted driving
- Fatigued driving
- Driving without a seatbelt
- Work zone collisions
Most of the accidents and injuries related to the above concerns are preventable. Part of the increase in fatalities is due to more people returning to the office and increasing traffic. The number of registered motor carriers is also on the rise, and trucking milage skyrocketed along with online shopping. On-site accident investigations shifting to an off-site model also contributed. COVID forced investigators to work from afar, which made it challenging to identify and remove risky drivers and fleets from the highways.
FMCSA has several plans in place to try and curtail these worrying trends. They’ve ordered a $30 million study to examine the causes of commercial truck accidents. They’re also taking steps to reduce speeding, engineer better roads, and enhance safety audits for new drivers. FMCSA is evaluating vehicle safety as well. They’re working on new legislation to require that all new trucks come equipped with technology for automatic emergency braking.
FMCSA’s safety initiatives aim to prevent crashes, injuries, and fatalities through a multi-tiered approach. Contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers to learn more ways to reduce risk within your fleet.