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Congress Calls for Increased Regulation to Improve Passenger Vehicle Safety on U.S. Highways

Trucking accidents are much more destructive and devastating than a collision involving two passenger vehicles. The sheer difference in size and weight between a tractor-trailer and a passenger vehicle is the reason trucking accidents cause a disproportionate number of deaths.

A recent report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed a substantial increase in the percentage of fatalities from trucking accidents since 2015, both in total vehicle fatalities as well as fatalities involving large trucks. As a result, members of Congress have joined together to introduce the “Stop Underrides Act of 2017” to decrease statistics like these:

  • The number of people killed in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. last year: 37,461.

  • The number of people killed in crashes that involved large trucks: 4,317.

  • The percentage of people killed in large truck crashes that were not occupants of the truck: 72.4 percent.

As written, the bipartisan bills, which were introduced Dec. 13 in the U.S. House and Senate, would require trucks to have underride guards on their sides and fronts.  The piece of legislation also shows how the guards on the back of trucks need to be updated as well.

Safety Tips for Trucker Drivers and Trucking Companies

Driving an 80,000 tractor trailer covering hundreds of thousands of miles is an awesome responsibility. Truckers and trucking corporations must be vigilant about safety. The National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) lists the following as some of the most common causes of big rig accidents:

  • Driver Fatigue (Tiredness)

  • Poor Driver Training

  • Driver Inexperience

  • Poor Driving Conditions

  • Aggressive, Dangerous Or Reckless Driving

  • Failure To Yield The Right-Of-Way

  • Driving Under The Influence of Alcohol Or Drugs

  • Mechanical Failure (Or Improper Maintenance)

  • Defective Parts (Such As Defective Steering Or Brakes)

  • Speeding

  • Overloaded Trucks

  • Oversized Trucks

  • Brake Failure

Truck drivers and trucking companies must be mindful of each of these trucking accident causes.

Driver Fatigue

Driver fatigue is a particularly dangerous — and completely preventable — cause of trucking accidents. We have written before about the dangers of fatigued truckers on the highways.  The NTSB has found that trucker fatigue was a contributing factor in 30%-40% of all diesel truck accidents. The NTSB found that proper sleep patterns are imperative for truck driver safety. Truckers must get 8 hours of continuous sleep after driving for 10 hours or after being on duty for 15 hours for proper safety.

The NTSB has issued warnings that truck drivers should also be screened for a medical condition called sleep apnea.  Sleep apnea denies people the rest they need, and it has been found to be a factor in incident involving every transportation mode.