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Big Rig Accidents ... Not Us


Raquel

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Traffic accidents involving big commercial trucks went up again in 2013, marking four years in a row for an increase in the unwelcome number. Accidents involving big rigs rose to 3,944, a one-half-percent increase. While the actual number of fatalities was down, those killed in trucking crashes were far more likely to be occupants of other vehicles or pedestrians. Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Interesting topic. Did your source say anything about the number of trucks on the road? I would be interested in a comparison between the number of trucks and accidents. Per capita statistics are more revealing than just one perspective. Also, and I am not sure how a statistic could be obtained, is the increase noted for OTR trucks or local/city delivery drivers? For the most part, OTR guys are a pleasure to share the highways with. The locals tend to be less aware of highway courtesies and mores i.e - coming back into the lane way too close after passing, no signals, not moving over when approaching a vehicle on the shoulder etc.

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These statistics get kicked around constantly and are "interpreted" different ways by various parties to make their point, one way or the other. The American Trucking Association will spin them one way, and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways(CRASH) will spin them the other.

Accidents/Fatalities per vehicle mile traveled is one of the best markers. The economy has been slowly improving over the last 4 years, truck miles have increased, so have accidents. Any independent organization examining the numbers would probably conclude no great increase or decrease. But high profile accidents like Tracy Morgan/Walmart in NJ last June causes an irresponsible media to stress certain info. They are wrong about a lot of things, not just truck safety.

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These statistics get kicked around constantly and are "interpreted" different ways by various parties to make their point, one way or the other. The American Trucking Association will spin them one way, and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways(CRASH) will spin them the other.

Accidents/Fatalities per vehicle mile traveled is one of the best markers. The economy has been slowly improving over the last 4 years, truck miles have increased, so have accidents. Any independent organization examining the numbers would probably conclude no great increase or decrease. But high profile accidents like Tracy Morgan/Walmart in NJ last June causes an irresponsible media to stress certain info. They are wrong about a lot of things, not just truck safety.

 

When I studied this a couple of years ago, on a vehicle miles traveled basis, heavy trucks fared better than passenger cars by about a factor of 8. Overall, even in total numbers, our roads are as safe as they've ever been--the ~32,000 fatalities/year are on par with the numbers in the 1940s, despite annual miles travelled being ten times what it was then. And if you exclude people not wearing seatbelts--arguably choosing a significantly higher risk for themselves--you reduce the numbers today by about a third. And a lot of the decline over the past 20 years has coincided with increased speeds, and numerous new distractions. Fatality rates overall are down 40% since the mid-90s.

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I agree with all the above. BUT- I put in a dash cam this year, just too many rectums. I did have a thought though- if I were at fault, and a cop saw the camera would I be obliged to show the footage?

 

No!! Think it would fall under the same ruling as cell phones. It is digital data and not a weapon which does not require a warrant to seize. They would have to have probable cause and a warrant to seize the property. Now that does not mean you can choose to destroy the data while they obtain the warrant.

 

On edit found this:

"If authorities want footage from a dash cam, they would likely have to obtain a search warrant, he said. In the case of a serious accident, resulting in a death, police might impound the vehicle to prevent camera footage from being tampered with until they obtained a search warrant, Brass said. In a civil suit, a plaintiff could subpoena a dash cam recording."

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One of my favorite college professors used to often say, "figures lie and liars figure." Then he would put some statistical study up so we could talk about it and figure out different ways to spin it.

 

I'd like to buy a dash cam but haven't figured out which one yet. My problem is I have several vehicles in the fleet so I will need to buy one that's easy to swap around. I agree with the others that the data belongs to you, but a sharp cop that spots the camera could seize it and get the search warrant. I'm with Jack, I'd rather have the data and hope it shows in my favor, than not have it at all. Just about all cars with air bags have an event data recorder (e.d.r.). The e.d.r. stores all sorts of data. Basically the newer the car the more data is stored. Everything from speed, braking application, seat belt latch, rate of deceleration, steering input, throttle pedal application, etc.... Most states I believe have passed laws to clarify that the owner of the car is the owner of the data. Police know about e.d.r.'s and have gotten search warrants to pull the data. And you know if the cops get the data all parties involved can get it through the disclosure process.

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Every HDT RVer I've ever met at some point mentioned that since switching to HDT they are even more aware of their surroundings.

I wish I could say the same about the semi drivers around Houston. Day after day we hear of semis rolling on their sides on the freeway ramps, hitting toll booths, loosing loads, etc. Most appeared to be local drivers (no sleeper). The logging trucks up around Livingston are a totally different story...

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I have found lately that truckers are getting to be more of a menace. Gone are the days of professionalism and politeness with pro truck drivers. Now its all about getting there first and fast and to hell with anyone else on the road. It definitely didnt used to be that way but it certainly is now.

Just as an example I recently had a big rig pass me on the left then cut back into my lane right in front of me and continue right onto an exit lane. The traffic behind me was light and he had plenty of room to just pull in behind me and then exit lke a normal person. I mean what kind of trucker does that? Nothing can excuse that. He was putting me at risk in my MH. I see it all the time with car and pickup drivers but a so called professional driving a big rig?

 

In Europe the truckers are limited even on the autobahns to the right lane at 90 kilometers per hour . (Thats 55 in american ). They are not allowed to pass and must leave room for merging and exiting traffic. Thats the way it should be here.

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Jim,

Wished we could have the same Autobahn laws here.

 

Right lane for trucks as Jim said. Right lane unless passing and if caught, $$ Marks spot fine. If double flashed in the mirror, complete your pass and get over 'cause something way fast is coming.

Drive with courtesy..

 

Now this was a long time ago in '84 and I know there are a lot more speed limits in higher density areas.

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Lane courtesy is certainly a good thing, and is being lost on the Autobahn as the number of speed-unlimited stretches are reduced. They have an active "green" movement with people camping out in the left lane at 55-60 mph.

 

Ohio experimented with eliminating their split speed limits on the turnpike several years ago, and had enough success that split speed limits have been eliminated on all interstates within the state. I've driven enough of them in Ohio both before and after the change, both by car and with the RV, and it's a LOT easier/relaxing to drive. With split speed limits, you had cars who wouldn't leave the left lane for fear of getting stuck in with the trucks, both cars and trucks either unable to pass or causing a left-lane slowdown when they did, and all kinds of road rage and dangerous driving maneuvers developing as a result any time a clump of traffic developed. Getting rid of the truck speed limit, and the subsequent increase from 65 to 70, has improved traffic flow, cut down on the number of citations being written, and resulted in fewer accidents. While there has been a push for trucks to have speed limiters, a prohibition on them would actually probably benefit safety more--leaving open the opportunity to get out of the way or open up a safe gap before having to change lanes.

 

It's the same logic that has us continuing to see increased speed limits nationwide--with Utah, Idaho, Texas, and Wyoming having success with 80 mph limits. Michigan, Montana, and Oklahoma are considering 80 mph or higher limits, with Missouri considering legislation to go from 70 to 75 mph. Just this year, Utah (70 mph urban limits, up from 65), Georgia (65 mph urban limits, up from 55), Pennsylvania (from 65 to 70 on parts of the turnpike), and British Columbia (from 100 to 120 km/h) have raised limits. The data is so overwhelming that even Illinois overrode a governor's veto on 2 bills, one increasing truck speed limits, the other tollway speed limits for cars--both by roughly 10-1 margins. Australia's Northern Territory, which saw a significant increase in speed-related accidents after a speed limit was imposed (many involving trucks), has had success in returning stretches of it to limitless status.

 

The key is to never let an arbitrary number on a sign post--which may be years old, or limited by various government agencies or political groups--override your judgement of what's safe at any particular point actually out on the road. Matching the speed of traffic is generally desirable. But so is deviating from it--speeding up or slowing down--to get out of a tight clump of vehicles, and you shouldn't go beyond what you (and your vehicle) are comfortable with. If the number on the sign doesn't exist or is clearly above where you want to be, you're more likely to be accommodating of someone wanting to go faster and let them pass.

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Matching the speed of traffic is generally desirable.

I hear that from speeders all the time, "I was just going with the flow of traffic". I actually heard one tell my judge that once. I laughed my ass off when the judge said he couldn't recall ever seeing a speed limit sign that said "Speed Limit - Flow of Traffic".
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Used to go from Pruem (North of Bitburg) to Ramstein at least once a month. It was nice to hit the Autobahn and cruise at 120 mph. The thing is that you notice how tired you are after driving that fast for a couple of hours. The increased attention and concentration wears on you for sure.

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I hear that from speeders all the time, "I was just going with the flow of traffic". I actually heard one tell my judge that once. I laughed my ass off when the judge said he couldn't recall ever seeing a speed limit sign that said "Speed Limit - Flow of Traffic".

 

Without getting into the legal reasoning, which for most would be boring, I've had a few opportunities to present my case. When I go to court, I have neither denied my speed nor been fined for it.

 

On most limited-access highways in the US, our speed limits are set well below what the system--drivers, vehicles, the road, etc.--are capable of supporting. When speed limits are set too low in these places, they tend to be ignored more generally where they are more important--i.e. surface streets, neighborhoods, etc. The simple "speed kills" argument that hinges on reaction time and kinetic energy is pure BS. It neglects the probabilities of an event occurring in the first place. The system is far more complex than that, and as a system it continues to improve. The same fundamental relationships that govern particle physics apply, and we apply them intuitively crossing a busy street on foot or passing on a two-lane road: moving as quickly as possible without losing control to get out of harm's way as soon as possible. Matching the speed is generally desirable in the interest of safety, despite any laws to the contrary.

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