Despite the fact that data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Oct. 3 indicates highway fatalities declined overall in 2017 after two consecutive years of large increases, the agency added that highway fatalities in 2017 jumped significantly in the sport utility vehicle or SUV category and commercial trucking sector. Fatalities among SUV occupants climbed 3 percent, and deaths in crashes involving tractor-trailers jumped 5.8 percent.
Self-driving vehicles, also known as highly automated vehicles (HAVs), were once in the realm of science fiction. But HAVs are here and about to transform the automotive industry and the U.S. transportation system, with retail models possibly being available as early as this year. HAVs could become a common sight on the road by 2055.
Over 4,500 people are killed each year in the USA in road collisions that involve semi tractor-trailers and other large trucks, and the majority of those killed are in smaller vehicles which, for whatever reason, are simply too close to the truck concerned.
Excerpt: [A chief of police in Wisconsin] has serious concerns with proposals in Congress that would allow heavier and longer rigs on highways because these proposals would dramatically increase the danger faced by everyday drivers.
The proposal calls for increasing trucks weights nationwide from 80,000 to 91,000 pounds, and another calls for increasing the length of double-trailer trucks by 10 feet, to 91 feet in length.
…Bigger trucks may mean increased profit margins for the handful of companies that would benefit, they also pose substantial safety risks to motorists…
Already more than 4,000 people are killed each year in the USA in crashes involving large trucks. One factor in this bad scenario is the long hours that drivers are allowed to work, behind the wheel, each week — far more than in other countries that have much lower road-death rates than does America. Making trucks larger and therefor even harder to stop should be seen as an extra factor that is likely to increase the number of deaths even further.
Given the number of tragic crashes that occur when truck drivers are not paying attention, and the horrifying number of people who die as a result, I think this technology should be made compulsory as quickly as possible, in all countries.
Meanwhile, if you happen to be stuck in traffic and see a large truck coming up behind you too fast, it’s time for prayers.
TIP: This is also a good reason to be in the lane next to the shoulder in a traffic jam so that you have a potential, last-ditch escape route — it could be vastly more important than trying to save a few minutes off your journey time!