Gambling on the Road with 18 Wheelers

One in five chances in the lottery would not be so bad. Would you take the same chances on the road? Chances on what? A recent study (June 2009) conducted by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance shows that for every large truck on the road, one in five were unable to pass inspection, and thus had to be removed from service.

Passing an inspection might not seem like a huge deal, until you consider the fact that over half of these violations were accounted for by defective brakes. That is right — big, heavy trucks with defective breaks. This is not really what one would consider a “winning hand.”

The problem does not stop there. One-percent of truck drivers were also found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

How Does Arkansas Weigh Up?

Arkansas has a relatively low population when considered nationally, but astonishingly, comes in 9th (ninth) on the list of states with the most companies in violation of safety requirements per 100,000 people, with 23 companies having violations in 2009. Nationally, it is estimated that there are over 200,000 trucks operating with safety violations. These safety violations do not stop with big trucks, with a significant number of these violations coming from buses, cargo tankers, and motor coaches.

At What Cost?

It is disturbing to find out that so many trucks with safety violations are on the road. The question must be asked as to why this is the case. Those involved in the trucking business see very low profit margins, and violating safety standards allows these companies to maximize profits. Illegally overloading trucks, exceeding speed limits and maximum driving hours, as well as failure to maintain tires and brakes are just a few of the ways that trucking companies cut costs. There can be serious consequences however, for such conduct. “Fatalities per miles driven are 56% higher for trucks than for all motor vehicles combined.” Sadly, in 2007, trucks accounted for 4,808 fatalities across the U.S. with 114 of those deaths in Arkansas.

This just covers the surface of some disturbing findings about trucks across the nation. I would encourage you to read the whole report for yourself at Awareness is an important factor in promoting trucking safety, and while the odds of running across a truck with safety violations will never be as low as those of winning the lottery, that should be our goal.