Federal Government Dragging Heels in Prevention of Fatal Semi-Truck Crashes
UNITED STATES – September 12, 2018 (pilotonline.com) An online story from pilotonline.com (sharing an article from the Kansas City Star) examines the rate of fatal semi-truck accidents in the last several years and the lack of action taken by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to prevent such accidents.*
In 2016, more than 4,300 people were killed in collisions involving tractor-trailers or large trucks. This figure represents a 29 percent increase from 2009 and is equivalent to a 737 airliner crashing twice a month. Every year, about 300 people are killed and 15,000 are injured in rear-end collisions with tractor-trailers. Collision avoidance systems can prevent more than seven out of 10 rear-end truck collisions, according to trucking companies that use the systems on their fleets. The wrecks that still do occur with collision avoidance systems cause less damage and less severe injuries.
At least 10 different times since 1990, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that NHTSA mandate forward crash avoidance and mitigation systems on all heavy trucks. But NHTSA has yet to publish any kind of proposed regulation or put one into effect. The NTSB has limited authority; It can only investigate incidents and make recommendations, and the rest is up to Congress or federal regulatory agencies like the NHTSA.
A few trucking companies have voluntarily undertaken new safety measures, but many are still unwilling. With prices sitting at about $150,000 for a standard new big rig, numerous companies are not amenable to spending the extra money it would take to outfit a rig with collision avoidance systems, like emergency braking.
Some members of Congress have seen the numbers above and believe the government needs to step in now to take action. “Safety mechanisms for the trucking industry have not kept up with the pace of technological advancement,” said U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat. “It’s time that Congress take meaningful action to improve safety across our transportation sector.”
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