What Can Be Done to Reduce Fatal Trucking Accidents?

Thousands of people die in large commercial trucking accidents every year.  So what can be done to make trucking safer in Missouri and the rest of the United States?

Several answers were provided in a recent Congressional hearing on truck safety.

The trucking industry wants tandem trailers to be as long as 33 feet each.  That’s up from today’s 28-foot maximum.  A day before the federal hearing, a study was released by Americans for Modern Transportation – a consortium of trucking concerns – that argued the benefits of allowing these “33 twins,” including a projected $2.6 billion in cost savings.

Fatal Truck Crash Rates Much Higher with Tandem Trailers

However, hearing testimony referred to a federal study that found the fatal truck crash rate of big rigs with two trailers was 11 percent higher than single trailers.  Making trailer tandems 10 feet longer surely will increase the nation’s number of fatal truck crashes.

A letter from the Trucking Alliance outlining measures to make trucking safer was read into the hearing record.  The Trucking Alliance also comprises trucking concerns but is a proponent of many safety issues.

To guard against dangerously fatigued truck drivers, truckers are limited by federal law how many hours per week they can drive.  Many truckers use paper logs to record their driving hours.  These paper logs can be easily manipulated and so the federal government enacted a new rule requiring drivers to log their hours electronically.

Truck drivers and truck companies using paper logbooks must switch to electronic logging devices by December 2017.  The Trucking Alliance urged that the rule be maintained, despite rumblings from the new administration that it may block it.

A federal law that is more than 30 years old requires trucking companies to carry a minimum of $750,000 liability insurance coverage.  That amount may have been realistic when the law took effect, but is terribly inadequate for meeting many trucking accident victims’ needs today.  The Trucking Alliance wants the insurance minimum raised.

Speed Limiters to Slow Down Truckers

Speeding trucks are dangerous trucks.  That’s why the Trucking Alliance advocated that trucking speed limiters be set no higher than 65 mph.  Going that speed, a fully loaded tractor trailer takes more than the length of a football field to stop.

Drivers under the influence of drugs pose great risks to others.  When a drugged driver is responsible for a rig weighing thousands of pounds, those risks can be catastrophic.  The Trucking Alliance is in favor of hair drug-testing for drivers, which is more expensive than today’s urine testing but more reliable.

The causes of fatal trucking accidents are known and solutions are available.  But as long as truck companies and truck drivers act carelessly, thousands will continue to die each year in truck accidents.

If you had a family member die in a crash involving a large commercial truck, an experienced truck accident attorney can pursue your legal rights to just compensation from those responsible.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.

Authored by: Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Articles on March 29, 2017