According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 5,005 people were killed in commercial truck accidents in 2019, continuing an upward trend in fatal truck crashes over the last 10 years. How many of these deaths could have been avoided if more trucking companies employed safety technology?
There are many causes of deadly tractor-trailer crashes. According to the federal government’s 2006 “Large-Truck Crash Causation Study,” preventable maintenance issues such as defective truck brakes as well as the environment can be contributing factors. But the most common causes were linked to driver behavior.
Causes of Large Truck Crashes
These driver-related causes of commercial truck crashes are broken out into four categories (with examples):
• Non-performance – truck driver falls asleep behind the wheel
• Recognition – inattentive, distracted or fatigued truck driver
• Decision – speeding truck driver
• Performance – truck driver overcompensates and swerves into another lane of traffic
As these common driver-related causes for catastrophic truck crashes have been identified, technology innovations designed to help mitigate these dangerous behaviors, and serious trucking accidents, have been introduced.
The Truck Safety Coalition is a nonprofit group whose mission is to reduce fatal truck crashes in the United States. It is a leading advocate for truck safety technology, urging the federal government to mandate its use as well as calling for trucking companies to voluntarily outfit their rigs with such advances.
One example cited by the Truck Safety Coalition is trucking speed limiters. These devices do exactly what the name implies: control truck driving speeds to help ensure truckers don’t exceed highway speed limits. The organization notes that they have been used in commercial trucks since the 1990s and by limiting trucks to 60 mph on the highway, as many as 498 lives are saved per year.
Preventing Truck Rollover Crashes
An inattentive trucker may be negligently oblivious to stopped traffic ahead, and the consequences can be disastrous. If the trucker has to quickly stop or swerve, the tractor-trailer can roll over. These truck rollover crashes, when occurring in heavy traffic, can cause a catastrophic multi-vehicle crash.
The Truck Safety Coalition advocates for electronic stability control systems in large trucks, claiming they would prevent over half of the nations’ truck rollover crashes.
Another technology to help prevent the dangers of distracted truck drivers are collision avoidance systems. These computer-controlled systems include:
• Automatic emergency braking
• Lane departure warning
According to the Truck Safety Coalition, truckers driving tractor-trailers with these collision avoidance systems experienced:
• 71% reduction in truck rear-end collisions
• 63% reduction in following other vehicles too closely
• 46% reduction in changing lanes improperly
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit organization that seeks to reduce deaths from motor vehicle crashes, estimates this technology grouping can potentially prevent 835 commercial truck crashes a year.
A company that supplies safety technology to the trucking industry recently announced it will release next year even more sophisticated technology designed to prevent serious truck crashes.
One component will use cameras and radar sensors to detect stationary vehicles ahead and can stop the truck on its own if needed to avoid a rear-end collision.
Another will help eliminate dangerous truck driver blind spots using radar technology to prevent side truck crashes.
And another innovation will detect moving objects behind the trailer and can automatically stop the rig before a potentially serious collision occurs.
While this technology rolls out next year, there are truck safety systems available today and yet fatal truck crash deaths continue to climb. The ultimately responsibility to prevent deadly trucking accidents falls to truckers to safely drive their vehicles, as well as trucking companies to safely maintain their fleets and employ reliable drivers.
If you were seriously injured or lost a loved one in a crash with a commercial truck, contact a truck accident attorney who is experienced in holding negligent truck drivers and negligent trucking companies accountable.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.
Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Articles October 7, 2021