Preventing Semi Truck Collisions

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Updated: Thu, 04 Sep 2014 06:10:38 CST

That's one of two fatal accidents involving a semi-truck to take place in Central Nebraska in the past two weeks. Statistics show that 98% of all semi accidents result in at least one fatality. News 5's Kelly Baumgarten takes a look at the regulations in place and the main cause for crashes.

Last week three members of a Hastings family were killed when a semi-truck hit their SUV, and two weeks ago police say a woman was killed in Merrick County after a semi-truck hit the back of her car pushing her into oncoming traffic.

"I've seen some pretty nasty accidents you just have to realize that it can happen to anybody it don't matter who you are you have to stay alert pay attention to what's going on," said Kim Hansen, Owner and Operator of Over the Hill Trucking.

Accidents like these are responsible for taking the lives of 5,000 Americans each year.

"That's always the fear of the job it's a very big responsibility out here on the road," said Chris Mackey, semi driver for CR England.

Research shows that the top two causes of semi-truck accidents are driver fatigue and distracted driving.

"If you're tired and your shifts not up yet be the bigger person and pull off the road get some sleep no load is worth anybody's life," said Mackey.

But truck drivers say senseless tragedies like this don't have to happen... if drivers just keep their eyes on the road and are aware of their surroundings.

"These trucks aren't toys obviously they are a precision machine and you gotta pay attention 110% when you're out here," said Mackey.

In light of these recent incidents, is the Department of Transportation doing enough to regulate the trucking industry? Right now, the department of transportation allows drivers to work a 14 hour workday, with 11 driving hours. But rest is required.

"They also have a new 8 hour mandatory rest break, a driver can't be on duty more than 8 hours straight without taking a 30 min off duty break," said Lucas Mowrey, Safety Manager for Grand Island Express Trucking and Shipping.

Lucas Mowrey is the Safety Manager for Grand Island Express Trucking and Shipping. He says they have strict rules and regulations.

"We don't want them distracted reaching for that to answer the phone so what we do we have a mobile communication system that we send that message out to them and say when its safe to do so please call us back," said Mowrey.

Employees are required to attend monthly safety meetings. He says more regulations are not the answer.

"It's just people needing to take the responsibility on themselves and realize that they're driving n 8000 pound piece of equipment that doesn't stop on a dime and they need to be aware of their surroundings," said Mowrey.

Several truck drivers tell us one of the best ways to stay focused is by listening to audio books while driving.