Semi-truck crashes rise, but safety tech may be the answer

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration states that in 2017, there were 34,439 fatal crashes in Connecticut and the rest of the U.S. Of these, 4,079 involved at least one large truck or bus. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says that 72 percent of all fatalities in truck crashes are the occupants of passenger vehicles.

Even worse, recent years have experienced a rise in truck crashes. In Florida, for instance, they have gone up from 23,515 to 32,513 between 2014 and 2018. The Florida Department of Transportation found that speeding was the leading driver-related factor in these.

Some trucking companies are using vehicle safety technology to combat the trend. Maverick Transportation, a company in the Midwest with a fleet of some 1,800 trucks, has installed everything from collision avoidance systems to roll stability control. Speed limiters were set to 65 mph. As a result, Maverick only saw one accident in 2018 that was reportable to the DoT (accidents that involve injury or require the truck to be towed away are reportable).

The use of speed limiters, which are in every heavy-duty truck built since 1992, is currently not required. After a decade-long push from safety advocates, NHTSA proposed a federal rule that would mandate their use, but the proposal failed in 2017.

Without safety tech and, more importantly, without proper training, trucking companies might face claims from those who incurred a personal injury through an employee’s negligence. Victims, for their part, may want a lawyer to assist with the claim, especially if they are dealing with the results of catastrophic injuries. A lawyer might hire investigators to gather proof of negligence, which could lie in the trucker’s work log or in any in-cab camera footage. Victims may leave all negotiations to their lawyer.