Fatalities rise as NHTSA fails to act on truck safety measures

Passenger cars share the roads in Texas with big rigs and other large trucks that have the potential to cause serious and sometimes fatal accidents. From 2009 to 2017, the federal government reported a 28% rise in truck accident fatalities. Forward crash avoidance technology could have likely prevented some of these tragedies. Since the 1990s, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration adopt regulations that require heavy trucks to have safety technology.

The NHTSA, however, has not proposed any regulations. Statements from the agency have not fully addressed why regulations have not emerged as new vehicle safety technology comes on the market. Automobile manufacturers have already committed to making forward collision warnings and automatic emergency braking standard on passenger vehicles by 2022.

According to a statement from the NHTSA, the agency is testing technology before drafting any regulations. It anticipates the completion of its field tests in two years. Critics call this continual analysis a stalling technique that leaves the public exposed to transportation dangers that existing technologies could mitigate. A representative from the Truck Safety Coalition called the current rate of fatal truck accidents, which claimed 4,102 lives in 2017, the equivalent of two large passenger airplanes crashing every month.

In the absence of supportive safety technology throughout some trucking fleets, the public must rely on truck drivers to avoid wrecks. If issues, like truck driver fatigue, poor maintenance or driving too fast for conditions, result in an accident, an injured person might pursue damages with a personal injury lawsuit. An attorney might improve a victim's ability to hold a trucking company accountable by investigating the accident and identifying applicable insurance policies. This information might be difficult for a person to track down independently while coping with serious injuries.

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