Semitruck crashes occur at an alarming rate. The most recent data regarding these wrecks indicates that in 2016, there were more than 4,300 people killed during that single year. It is easy to overlook the significance of these events because it is often a small number of fatalities per crash, so a look at a single accident doesn’t provide much of a shock factor.
When you look at the annual death total for the entire country, things get a little more shocking. With more than 4,300 dead due to big crashes, you are looking at a number equivalent to having two fully loaded 737 airliners crashing twice a month without a single survivor.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is charged with regulating semitrucks. However, there is some debate going on about what the agency is actually doing. One factor that is causing some outrage is that there hasn’t been any real effort to prevent tractor-trailers from rear-ending other vehicles.
Mandated changes might have prevented a good number of these types of crashes. Technology is available that would help to alert truckers when they are in danger of slamming into a vehicle in front of them. The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that forward crash avoidance systems be mandatory on all semis. Since the late 1990s, this recommendation has been made at least 10 times.
Rear end accidents are often devastating. However, they are also one of the easiest types to prevent. Current technology could help truckers who are fatigued or distracted to react in a way that could lessen the severity of the crash even if it doesn’t fully prevent it. The rear end wreck that injured Tracy Morgan and left some of the other occupants of the vehicle dead is one example of what might have been prevented if forward crash avoidance systems were mandatory.
It is interesting to note that the auto industry says that all passenger vehicles will have forward collision warning systems and automatic emergency braking by 2022. This same standard isn’t being applied to tractor-trailer rigs. Due to this lack of commitment by the heavy truck manufacturers, there is only a small percentage of these vehicles on the road that have the available technology on board.
Some companies are pushing back against the cost of these systems. They don’t want to add more to vehicles that can already easily cost $150,000. Putting profit above safety is something that simply shouldn’t be permissible.
For victims of rear-end semitruck crashes, the injuries can be severe and very costly. They often turn to lawsuits to seek compensation for the damages.