Fatalities associated with tractor-trailer accidents have been on the rise about 28% since 2009 with more than 4,300 people being killed in semi truck-related accidents since the beginning of 2016. In an article published in The National Law Review, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) asserts it has vigorously been supporting legislation that would require all heavy trucks to be equipped with life-saving crash-avoidance technology, but the NTSB wants the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to step up and join the fight to protect people from dangerous 18-wheeler accidents on our nation’s roadways.
Since the 1990’s the NTSB has recommended the NHTSA require forward crash avoidance and mitigation systems on all heavy trucks no less than ten times, and now, 20 plus years later, the NHTSA has not even proposed such regulation let alone implemented one. However, the auto industry has promised that by the year 2022, some type of forward crash-avoidance system will be standard on all passenger vehicles sold in the US.
At this time, only about 10% of the big rigs on our country’s highways have any type of collision-avoidance technology installed, but according to the companies utilizing such systems, the technology is working and can prevent seven out of ten rear-end truck collisions.
Let’s Strengthen Commercial Trucking Safety, Says NTSB
The NTSB wants to strengthen commercial trucking safety to help reduce the number of tragic truck accidents on our nation’s roadways. When a celebrity like Tracey Morgan gets hit by a truck, the whole world learns about it, but there are thousands of truck accidents in the United States every year. While many people are getting hurt and killed, those collisions, injuries and deaths simply do not get the publicity same level of attention.
The NTSB is committed to working to improve commercial trucking safety and says a multi-faceted approach is necessary with several agencies working together. There must be a collaborative effort between the companies that own the semi trucks, the drivers taking them out on the roads every day, and the oversight agencies with the goal of protecting all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.
According to the NTSB, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the NHTSA must improve their oversight of all parties involved in commercial trucking safety, and a good place to start is with improving the technology and process with safety compliance (both driver safety and truck safety). New carriers must be made to address safety deficiencies quickly and thoroughly and must suffer repercussions when cited for compliance issues. Those new carriers should be more carefully monitored, and regulators need a better system of making sure negligent, dangerous operators don’t return to the trucking industry under another company name.
Electronic time and distance logging devices must be standard on trucks, and drivers must be screened for medical conditions that may cause impairment. Use of substances that lead to impairment must be more closely monitored, and dangerous drivers must be removed from our country’s roadways.
Fleets must be properly maintained and life-saving technology must be utilized. Vehicle inspections including checking safety equipment and technology must be ongoing and thorough; collision-warning technology, tire pressure monitoring systems, rollover stability control systems, and lane departure warning systems must be mandatory across the entire industry. Whether a trucking company owns one truck or ten thousand trucks, the regulations must be the same across the board.
If trucking companies continue to follow the bare minimum when it comes to trucking regulations and don’t go above and beyond to proactively identify hazards, then we cannot be shocked at the rising number of truck accident-related deaths on American highways.