Commercial Vehicles

Semi-trailer truck on rural highway
Photo: Shutterstock

Did you know over 70 percent of all freight moved in the United States is moved by a commercial vehicle? Everything we touch in the course of our daily lives has been touched by the commercial vehicle industry. The fuel we use for our cars, the groceries and food we eat, and the clothes we wear all depend on the massive 80,000-pound vehicles we see driving up and down Minnesota's roadways on a daily basis. Unfortunately, because of the vehicles' sheer size and weight, a crash involving a commercial vehicle has a higher propensity to end in tragedy. In fact, on a national level, large commercial vehicles account for 9 percent of all fatality crashes, despite representing only 4 percent of all registered vehicles. Closer to home, commercial vehicles are involved in approximately 20 percent of all fatalities in Minnesota—an overrepresentation based on the number vehicles on the road compared to regular passenger vehicles.

Enforcing Minnesota's traffic law is critical in all areas of our state, and for all types of vehicles, including commercial vehicles. The approximate stopping distance for an 80,000-pound commercial vehicle increases exponentially when traveling at 65 miles per hour versus 55 miles per hour. Studies show the distance increases by almost 200 feet, to an approximate total distance of 525 feet when including reactionary times.

The commercial vehicle industry is highly regulated. Drivers have an explicit number of hours they can drive in a day; most often, they must track their hours electronically in a virtual log book, meet certain medical requirements, and have specific equipment for their trucks and trailers. All of the regulations can become overwhelming quickly, even for the seasoned law enforcement officer. With commercial vehicle drivers, remember the Toward Zero Death platform: strictly enforce the speed limit, eliminate driver distractions, and keep impaired drivers off the road.

Guidance

  • The Minnesota State Patrol's Commercial Vehicle Section, the state's lead agency for commercial vehicle safety and weight enforcement, offers several training platforms available for law enforcement agencies.