You were traveling with family when your worst nightmare happened: A truck driver wasn't paying attention, entered your lane and hit your vehicle. You lost control, and you went off the highway. Fortunately, there was only one major impact, but now you and your family members have injuries to tend to along with damage to your vehicle.
If you have ever driven when there were many semitrucks on the roads, you know that trucks can be dangerous to others. If a driver isn't paying attention or falls asleep, he or she could quickly cause an accident.
California has a population of over 3.9 million people, as of 2015. Out of that population, there were over 335.5 million miles traveled that same year, the most of any state in the country. It may not be a surprise that there were more fatal crashes in California that year than in any other state. A total of 2,925 fatal crashes took place with 3,176 total fatalities. That makes the death rate for the population around 8.1 people out of every 100,000.
Commercial drivers are held to higher standards than those who drive other vehicles. Why? Their vehicles are large and dangerous.
Imagine driving down the highway. Suddenly, there's a cloud burst and rain falls. Immediately, you try to brake, but your vehicle starts to slide. Why? The oil and rain have mixed to make the road slick. In your attempt to slow, you swerve and barely miss someone in another lane. Fortunately, you drive away without a crash this time, but it shocked you into slowing down significantly.
Crashes are bad enough when they're between two small vehicles, but when they involve multiple semi-trucks, they can be lethal. The size of these vehicles makes them likely to crush and damage vehicles of all sizes, putting everyone's lives at risk. Add to that the risk of hazardous materials spilling or the truck's load breaking loose, and there could be mayhem whenever two semis collide.
In just one year, nearly 300 Californians were killed in accidents involving large trucks, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Flat beds, 18-wheelers and semis are huge when compared to passenger vehicles. Driving them can be a challenge, even for professional drivers.
California truck drivers will need to continue taking their required 30-minute breaks during their first eight hours of driving time each day. In August 2016, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration denied a petition by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Association to lift the break requirement.
In California and around the country, vehicles weighing over 26,000 pounds may soon have their maximum speed controlled by an electronic device. Over 3.5 million trucks already have this tool installed and just need them to be activated. A decision hasn't been made on whether the speed limitations will be forced onto truckers, but the limits under consideration are 60, 65 and 68 miles per hour.