Technology Could Reduce Truck Accidents but Regulators Fail to Act
On behalf of Donald Carter at Carter & Fulton, P.S.
Despite Truck Accident Deaths Increasing, Regulations Are Falling Behind
For the fourth straight year, truck accident fatalities increased in the United States in 2013, prompting the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to accuse regulators of failing to do enough to stem the problem, according to Bloomberg. The NTSB recently unveiled its “wish list” of improvements it believes are necessary to increase transportation safety. One of its priorities this year will be strengthening safety regulations in the trucking industry, such as by focusing on driver fatigue and technologies that could reduce accidents.
Technology Available, but Not Mandatory
The NTSB wants federal regulators to focus more on truck driver safety by passing regulations requiring anti-collision technology in trucks, clearer rules on driving hours, and better oversight of trucking companies that have a poor safety record. As Transport Topics Online notes, the NTSB itself cannot implement regulations, but can merely make recommendations to regulators and lawmakers.
The NTSB in particular pointed out that significant technology already exists that can alert drivers to nearby objects or to the fact that another vehicle nearby has changed lanes. Despite the obvious use these technologies could have in reducing traffic deaths, regulators have so far failed to make them mandatory in commercial vehicles.
Deaths Rise, but Regulations Relaxed
In fact, far from improving regulations in the trucking industry, safety advocates note that lawmakers recently suspended important regulations concerning allowable truck driver hours. In December, Congress put in place a one-year suspension of a rule that was designed to cut truck driver fatigue by limiting the number of hours truckers were allowed on the road each week. That suspension was attached to the U.S. government spending bill and was passed despite warnings from the U.S. Department of Transportation that the rules were needed to reduce truck accidents.
The issue has become a pressing one given that truck accident fatalities continue to rise across the U.S. Figures released by the U.S. Department of Transportation show that truck accident fatalities increased for the fourth consecutive row in 2013 to nearly 4,000 deaths. Between 2009 and 2013, truck accident fatalities have gone up by 17 percent nationally.
Truck accidents are unique not only for the carnage and pain they can leave behind for countless victims and their families, but for the difficult legal and financial questions that they often give rise to. Numerous parties may have contributed to a truck accident, including not just the driver, but the vehicle’s owner and the trucking company, especially in cases where safety regulations may have been violated. Anybody who has been the victim of a truck accident should immediately contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help victims in need of assistance tackling these complex cases.
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