(Family Features) As both commuters and tourists return to the roads this year, they'll likely find even more commercial trucks, which are currently moving freight at unprecedented levels amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many people often wonder how safe those 80,000-pound tractor-trailers next to them on the interstates really are.
To gauge the feelings of U.S. adults traveling those roadways, one of the nation's largest trucking companies, U.S. Xpress, developed a Safe Trucking Report to spotlight a few ways it's helping make roads safer for all drivers.
Event recorders. These small video cameras are installed fleet-wide and triggered to record certain events, such as when a driver is following too closely, has a hard brake, makes a non-signaled lane departure or is speeding. Since accidents involving trucks often aren't the truck driver's fault, it also captures risky behavior of other drivers, helping better assign liability in the event a collision does occur. Most adults surveyed (79%) agree trucking companies should be required to install event recorders.
Hair testing for drugs. Around 2-3% of truck drivers will test positive for prohibited substances including marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines in a urine test. Hair testing analyzes prohibited substances metabolized in the body over a longer period and across a wider range of banned substances. A few of the major carriers, including U.S. Xpress, require a negative hair test result for all truck drivers. Among survey respondents, 71% think trucking companies should require hair testing.
Speed limiters. Also installed across the entire fleet, this technology manages the speed of trucks, helping reduce accidents and improve fuel efficiency. Wi-Fi-enabled sensors remotely set maximum tractor speeds for use of the pedal and cruise control. Slower speeds also lead to fewer accidents. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of those surveyed agree trucking companies should require speed limiters.
Insurance minimums. The Department of Transportation requires all trucking companies to maintain a minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance; an amount that hasn't changed in nearly 40 years. To ensure its drivers and those sharing the road are protected, U.S. Xpress maintains insurance well above this required minimum. However, in such a large and fragmented industry, there are thousands of small carriers who are insuring at bare minimum levels. More than three quarters (76%) of U.S. adults who responded to the survey agree the government should increase the minimum from $750,000 to $2 million.
"Safety is our top priority, which is why we emphasize programs like these when hiring new drivers and when talking with our customers," said Nathan Harwell, chief legal officer at U.S. Xpress. "While some of these initiatives may seem small, they all add up to keep our roadways safer for everyone."
For more information on safe trucking protocols, visit usxpress.com/researchandreports.
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