Last week, the National Transportation Safety Board made headlines when it issued multiple safety recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration discussing how to improve overall safety within the trucking industry.
Specifically, after examining the findings of a 2013 in-house study on single-unit trucks and other affiliated research, the NTSB urged the NHTSA to take action in seven different areas to help lower the rate of serious truck accidents on U.S. roads and highways.
While a complete discussion of all seven recommendations is clearly beyond the scope of a single blog post, we'll take a look at one of the more interesting recommendations made by the NTSB.
The NTSB recommendations indicate that collisions in which vehicles crash into the sides of tractor-trailers are responsible for roughly 500 fatalities each year, and that a significant number of these fatalities can be linked to so-called side underride.
This essentially references those accidents in which the upper sections of passenger cars or smaller trucks actually slide underneath the sides of tractor-trailers in high-speed collisions, putting the impact point squarely on the structurally weaker roof columns.
The NTSB also found that rear underride accidents -- those crashes in which the upper sections of passenger cars or smaller trucks actually slide underneath the rear sections of tractor-trailers in high-speed collisions -- are also responsible for a large number of fatalities.
As a solution to this rather disturbing problem, the NTSB recommends that the NHTSA start requiring all new tractor-trailers to be equipped with side underride protection systems, which are designed to stop vehicles from sliding under. It also recommends that the NHTSA revise its current standards governing rear underride protections systems, as they have not remained current with otherwise remarkable engineering advancements.
"Millions of large trucks travel our roadways every day, transporting
goods and keeping the American economy moving," said the NTSB Chairman
Deborah Hersman. "But research shows that eliminating ... underride
events would reduce fatalities and injuries involving other road users."
Some of the other notable recommendations made by the NTSB include improved data collection practices regarding trailers involved in truck crashes and the mandatory installation of enhanced blind spot monitoring systems.
While we can certainly hope that the NHTSA takes the necessary actions to make the roads safer in the future, those who have suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in a truck accident in the meantime should remember that they do have options for pursuing justice.
Source: The Trucker, "NTSB offers 7 recommendation to improve truck safety," April 4, 2014