A hearing held in February 2020 by the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety has explored the various concerns over a proposed bill called the DRIVE-Safe Act. This bipartisan bill, introduced in February 2019, proposes that interstate travel be opened even to those commercial truckers under the age of 21. Ohio, like most states, allows drivers as young as 18 to obtain a CDL but restricts them to intrastate travel.
CMV drivers work long hours and sometimes exceed the number of hours they are allowed to drive in a single shift. This translates to a great number of drowsy truckers in Ohio and across the U.S. Drowsiness is not unavoidable; drivers simply need to be aware of it and take the right steps to address it.
In 2018, there were 4,415 fatal crashes involving large trucks, which was a 52.6% increase since 2009. It also represented a 5.7% increase since 2016, and the latest data has prompted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to conduct a study. In 2003, the FMCSA conducted a similar study in which it analyzed 120,000 crashes involving commercial vehicles. However, the the agency says that changes in technology, road design and driver habits have influenced driver performance since the last study was conducted.
Sleep apnea is a condition that affects 35% of all commercial truckers in Ohio and across the U.S. They are, in fact, 11 times more likely to suffer from it than the general population. Of the all the sleep apnea variations, obstructive sleep apnea is the most prevalent among truckers. With OSA, the mouth palate and throat muscles relax and collapse during sleep, blocking the airway for 5 to 10 seconds at a time and thus breaking up the individual's sleep.
Several busy freeways cross Ohio, and persons who have driven on them have had the opportunity to observe large trucks traveling at high speeds carrying heavy loads. Some of the hazards faced by truck drivers are obvious, such as bad weather, fatigue, slippery roads, boredom and mechanical problems. Some problems are not so obvious, but they nevertheless pose significant hazards for both drivers and persons in other vehicles who share the roads.
Accidents involving large trucks are more dangerous than other motor vehicle accidents. Because of their large size and weight, a semitrailer or other big truck can carry tremendous force even at relatively low speeds. At high speeds, any collision between a large truck and a car or pickup truck can easily mean catastrophic injury or death to the occupants of the smaller vehicle.
Winter again demonstrated its power to disrupt traffic and send scores of motorists to the hospital in a recent incident. The heavy snow that spread across Ohio recently resulted in a massive 50-vehicle pile-up on Interstate 80 just east of Austintown. The chain reaction accident began at about 10:30 a.m. in the westbound lanes of I-80. All westbound lanes on I-80 were closed during much of the day as police and rescue crews worked to untangle the wreckage.
Some vehicles by their very nature seem to be immune from traffic accidents. One obvious category is ambulances. They seem to rarely be involved in collisions causing injury. Unfortunately, that rule was disproved in an accident near Enon, Ohio, when a semi-trailer truck struck an ambulance on I-70.
Many news reports of vehicle accidents in Ohio end with the statement that the collision is being further investigated. What, exactly, does this mean? The vehicles have come to rest, police have checked the physical condition of the drivers and any passengers and summoned any emergency medical care that may be needed. What else remains to be learned?
Most motorists in Ohio know that a double yellow line on a highway means "No Passing" and that a violation of the rule can often result in death or serious injury. The disregard of the double yellow line recently led to a vehicle-motorcycle-truck accident that resulted in the death of a motorcyclist.