February 5, 2014
Motorists share the road with large trucks every day, and yet most don't realize just how dangerous these vehicles can be. Thousands die every year in accidents involving trucks, and according to an investigative report by ABC Chicago, truck accidents are on the rise. The most unsettling aspect of this statistic is that when a passenger vehicle is involved in a truck crash, the occupants of the passenger vehicles are far more likely to be killed or injured.
Speed is often a factor in fatal truck crashes. Crash reconstruction expert Tom Green says speed is so often a factor in deadly crashes that trucking companies have begun to use electronic speed limiters (also known as governors) on their trucks. These governors keep the truck below a designated safe speed. But it now appears that truck drivers are finding ways to deactivate these governors, potentially putting lives in danger.
A product called the "Safety Pass Pro," manufactured by Fast Truck Enterprises, is advertised as a "totally undetectable" way of bypassing governors, allowing truck drivers to get where they are going in less time. "Anytime someone uses some device or some type of method to bypass a safety feature everyone should be concerned about that," says Green.
To make matters worse for motorists, ABC Chicago's investigation found instances of truck drivers creating two sets of log books detailing how many hours they have been behind the wheel. One log book, for their trucking company, indicates how long and how far they have actually driven. The other log book, for federal investigators, has a fake set of miles and hours behind the wheel. Truckers are federally mandated to only be behind the wheel for a certain number of hours per day and per week, with mandatory rest periods worked into their schedules. These fake log book, known to truckers on social media as "comic books," are used as a smokescreen to get around federal hours of service requirements.
Last Monday, a trucker plowed into a police car and another truck in Illinois, killing an Illinois Tollway worker and critically injuring an Illinois State Trooper. In a subsequent investigation, authorities charged truck driver Renato Velasquez with providing fake records to cover up the amount of time he had been behind the wheel prior to the accident. Velasquez, it turns out, had been behind the wheel for 38 straight hours.
Speed and exhaustion are a deadly combination when it comes to large trucks. With the rise of new technology to bypass governors, the trickery of keeping fake log books, and the newly imposed speed limit increase in Illinois, it unfortunately, looks like fatal crashes will continue to occur.