The National Transportation Safety Board released its priority list of safety initiatives for 2015 this week. Trucking safety appears on the list and was the subject of some pointed remarks directed toward regulators. The NTSB pointed out that it has made more than 100 recommendations of ways to improve truck safety that have not been acted on by highway regulators. While the total number of fatal accidents has trended downward over the past four years, trucking fatalities have risen in each of those years. The NTSB only has the power to make recommendations. It does not have the authority to make or enforce trucking regulations.
The director of highway safety investigations at the NTSB pointed to new technology in suggesting that trucking crashes could be reduced. The NTSB has led the push for safety sensors and electronic control devices to make trucks safer. The technology would warn truck drivers of hazards they may be unable to see during the course of driving.
In 2013, the most recent year for which data is available, 3,964 fatalities resulted from large truck crashes. That total includes truck drivers and passengers, pedestrians and the occupants of vehicles involved in large truck crashes. That figure is 17 percent larger than the number of fatalities recorded in 2009. The crashes vary widely in terms of cause, but common themes include fatigued drivers, trucks that are not properly maintained and distracted drivers. The NTSB called for better safety enforcement and plans designed to manage fatigue among drivers.
Source: Bloomberg, “Trucking Safety Should Be a Higher U.S. Priority, NTSB Says,” by Alan Levin, 13 January 2015