Pennsauken, NJ (Law Firm Newswire) February 20, 2015 – The federal board has issued a plea as commercial vehicle accident deaths and injuries rise.
During a news conference on January 13, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) urged a shift in priorities concerning trucking safety for 2015. The agency chose the high-profile forum for pleading its case in the wake of evidence that highway regulators have failed to implement more than 100 safety recommendations, despite that fact that highway fatalities involving trucks have mounted steadily over the last four years.
While stressing the importance of the trucking industry to the nation, the NTSB also revisited some distressing statistics concerning commercial vehicle accidents. According to the NTSB, in 2012 alone there were nearly 4,000 deaths and more than 100,000 injuries that could be blamed on accidents involving commercial vehicles in the United States.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration were high on the list of agencies that the NTSB implored to improve oversight of truck operators, drivers and vehicles. Specifically, the NTSB would like to see improved systems for determining trucking company safety compliance and for ensuring that stronger oversight is implemented. With better systems in place, these government agencies might ensure that new carriers address safety deficiencies in a timely manner — or quickly take offending vehicles out of service.
The NTSB’s initiative follows a year with several notoriously deadly and tragic accidents involving commercial vehicles. In one Orland, California crash the agency cited, a tractor-trailer crossed a median and collided with a bus carrying students, resulting in 10 deaths and 40 injuries on April 10, 2014. The NTSB also cited the June 7, 2014 case of a truck-tractor and semitrailer combination vehicle that struck a limousine bus on the New Jersey Turnpike, killing one passenger and critically injuring comedian Tracy Morgan.
“The NTSB’s decision to cite the statistical toll that commercial vehicle accidents take on people paints a stark general picture for the public to see,” said Steven Petrillo, a prominent attorney in Pennsauken, New Jersey, whose law firm specializes in commercial vehicle accident law. “And the agency’s reference to the accident involving Tracy Morgan is, for the public, relatable on a more personal level.”
Advanced technologies have been high on the NTSB’s wish list for safety improvements, including sensors that warn truck drivers when they are about to hit someone from behind or that issue an alert when a vehicle changes lanes. The agency also would like to see regulators use performance standards for front and side underride protection systems, which would improve vehicle crash compatibility with passenger vehicles, among other recommendations.
“The NTSB has issued a clarion call for safety improvements that the trucking industry and safety regulators should heed,” Petrillo said. “Unfortunately, the agency has no regulatory authority, so compliance with its recommendations would be on a voluntary basis.”
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