If you read through our blog, deaths and injuries caused by accidents involving semi-trucks are too common of an occurrence on American highways. In 2016, 4,440 trucks were involved in fatal accidents. This number represents a 29 percent increase in fatal accidents since 2009. As the Kansas City Star pointed out, this number is the same as two 737 airlines crashing twice a month without survivors.
Today, those who have lost loved ones in truck accidents are demanding new regulations for commercial trucks.
“Those should be eye-opening numbers. If air carriers or railroads reported similar numbers, there would be national outrage,” says John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition.
Automatic Braking Systems
The Kansas City Star revealed that the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended the NHTSA require semi-trucks to be equipped with automatic braking systems at least 10 times since the 1990s. These systems utilize radar technology to detect stopped vehicles up to 500 feet away. Once detected, the system will automatically brake. In many instances, semi-trucks could be automatically stopped in time to prevent accidents. For other situations where stopping is impossible, trucks could be slowed down enough to significantly reduce the fatal potential of an accident.
Experts have said that rear end accidents are the most common fatal truck accident. The sheer weight difference between a commercial vehicle and a passenger vehicle can make even a fender bender deadly. Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of these accidents is how preventable they are with the proper safety systems. The NTSB has been asking the National Transportation Safety Board to implement new policies for years. So far, the regulative body has made no changes to the law.
A Mother Asks for Answers
Pam Biddle’s 23-year-old son, Brian Lee, was killed in a rear-end collision because the truck driver was looking at a tablet while driving. If his truck had automatic brakes, Pam Biddle’s son would likely still be alive.
When Biddle learned that this accident was preventable, she was heartbroken and appalled. She feels that the bureaucracy of the NHTSA failed to implement obvious regulations that would have saved her son's life, as well as the lives of the others in his car.
The NHTSA Has Failed to Act
Advocates for automatic braking systems have claimed that the NHTSA is not set up to make any meaningful process towards regulations requiring them. Without effective leaders, the NHTSA is failing to implement automatic braking systems. For its part, the NHTSA has cited a lack of cost-benefit analysis regarding why they haven't made automatic braking an industry standard.
Meanwhile, South Korea and the European Union have passed laws requiring new trucks to feature automatic brakes. It appears US officials will wait until more preventable accidents occur and more people lose their lives before they make any meaningful changes.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, call the trucking attorneys at Arnold & Itkin at (888) 490-0442. Our attorneys have won billions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for clients. Your recovery starts by calling for a free consultation.