Preventing fatal commercial truck crashes continues to be a national concern, and lawmakers are targeting speeding truck drivers.
The most recent federal data show that in 2020, nearly 5,000 people were killed in commercial truck accidents. More than 70% of those who died were occupants of vehicles other than the truck.
Catastrophic crashes involving tractor-trailers and other large commercial vehicles appear to be growing problem. The federal government estimates that fatal commercial truck crashes jumped 13% in 2021 over 2020.
Causes of Serious Commercial Truck Crashes
Many causes of deadly trucking accidents have been identified. The 2006 “Large-Truck Crash Causation Study,” conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, is the most comprehensive look at the causes of commercial truck crashes to date.
The study included only commercial truck crashes that resulted in death or injuries. It identified many contributing causes of commercial trucking accidents. They include:
· Defective truck brakes
· Truck driver drug use
· Defective roadways
The leading cause for commercial truck accidents was driver error. The study categorized those mistakes four ways:
· Non-performance: the driver fell asleep behind the wheel, for example
· Recognition: the driver was distracted or inattentive, for example
· Performance: the driver failed to exercise proper control of the vehicle, for example
· Decision: following a vehicle too closely, for example
Truckers who are Speeding or Driving Too Fast for Conditions
Poor decisions made by the driver were involved in nearly 40% of the commercial truck crashes in the study. Speeding and driving too fast for conditions – other examples of poor decision making – significantly contributed to commercial truck crashes.
The federal “Large-Truck Crash Causation Study” is in the process of being updated for the first time. But regulators and lawmakers are not waiting for those results in their efforts to prevent fatal trucking accidents. Their immediate sights are set on truck drivers who are speeding.
Truck Speed Limiters
FMCSA has proposed mandating speed limiters on large commercial trucks. It has not suggested a maximum speed limit for the devices to be set, but a previously proposed rule in 2016 set the maximum truck speeds between 60 and 68 mph.
One trucking industry lobbying organization, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, has already opposed the truck speed limiter rule.
At about the same time, Congress reintroduced a bill to legislate truck speed limiters. The proposed law, introduced in 2019, calls for truck speed limiters set at a top speed of 65 mph. Commercial tractor-trailers with certain other safety features such as automatic emergency braking systems, would be allowed a maximum speed of 70 mph.
The two truck speed limiter measures are renewed efforts to reduce truck crashes. They are unrelated but their timing is no accident: the latest data show commercial truck crashes continue to put thousands of people at great risk.
If you were seriously injured or last a loved one in a crash caused by a commercial truck driver, a truck accident attorney can pursue your legal rights to just compensation from all those responsible.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.
Authored by Gray Ritter Graham. Posted in Blog June 16, 2022