Understanding the Increase in Truck Accident Fatalities
Accidents involving big trucks have always been dangerous, but over the last few years, fatalities involving semi-trucks have increased at an unprecedented level. Trucking fatalities have increased at a rate almost three times the rate of fatal crashes in general.
According to the federal government, more than 4,300 people were killed nationwide in 2016 in accidents involving large trucks. This is a 28 percent increase since 2009. News reports state that this increase is the equivalent of two 737 airplanes crashing every month, killing everyone on board.
John Lannen of the Truck Safety Coalition states that, “If air carriers or railroads reported similar numbers, there would be national outrage.”
One of the most common and most easily prevented forms of accident occurs when a semi-truck rear-ends a smaller vehicle at high speeds. Let’s take a look at two of the major causes behind the increase in these accidents: higher speed limits and lack of safety regulation.
Higher Speed Limits
Over the last decade, speed limits across the United States have increased steadily. Forty-three states have maximum limits of 70 miles per hour or above, a rise from 35 states ten years ago. Currently, seven states have a maximum limit of 80 mph on interstates, while only two had a limit that high a decade ago.
These might sound like small differences, but according to Captain Chris Turner of the Kansas Highway Patrol, “Surviving a crash becomes less viable at about a 45 mph impact and it starts to go up pretty exponentially.”
With increased traffic and increased speeds, a rise in fatalities involving big trucks is a virtual certainty. Americans have to choose whether speed or safety is more important. Erring on the side of safety can help prevent an accident.
Lack of Safety Regulation
Automated collision avoidance systems have the potential to prevent more than seven out of ten rear-end truck collisions. Even when crashes occur, devices such as automatic emergency braking can generally lead to lower levels of injury and property damage.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) does not dispute these findings. But the NHTSA, Congress, and the federal government have made no moves to require the trucking industry to equip vehicles with automatic emergency braking.
Tighter regulation of the trucking industry would save lives, but the NHTSA is slow to make any recommendations. It may be decades before the administration proposes any additional safety measures, or it may never happen. It remains to be seen whether the increase in fatalities involving big trucks will continue. But without pressure to regulate, it appears unlikely that the federal government will take decisive action to prevent the rise in deaths.
Chris J. Roy, Jr. APLC has been serving the people of Louisiana from its Alexandria office since 1989. We handle a variety of cases and look forward to addressing your legal needs. For almost three decades, our firm has been defending and filing claims for individuals hurt in accidents, and we have the knowledge, experience, and resources to help you. If you have questions or would like to set up a consultation, call us today or contact us online.