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Vehicle maintenance and trucker responsibility

While most commuters in New York probably do not stop and check their vehicles for any issues before heading to work for the day, expectations for commercial truck drivers are different. According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, truckers must perform a thorough inspection before climbing into the driver’s seat each day. The commercial driver’s license manual requires them to demonstrate their knowledge and ability to review the condition of the vehicles.

After checking for puddles under the engine and transmission and inspecting hoses, a trucker should make sure oil, coolant and power steering fluids are at the appropriate levels. Belts should be snug without cracks or evidence of fraying. Gauges must be working correctly, and a reading of each should be noted. The operator should also examine lights and mirrors, brake and steering systems, tires and all connections for any issues.

Truckers who are negligent in their duties are not just putting themselves at risk. In fact, from their positions in the much larger vehicle, they are relatively safe in an accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, passenger vehicle occupants are much more likely to die in a crash than those who are in the cab of a large truck.

Of the 126 people who died in motor vehicle accidents involving tractor trailers in New York in 2015, only 15—or about 12 percent of the total fatalities—were in the trucks. This puts New Yorkers at slightly below the national average of 16 percent. Thirty-two were pedestrians or other non-occupants, and 79 were in passenger vehicles. 

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