Illinois State Trooper Douglas Balder discussed the truck accident that injured him and killed a tollway worker on the one-year anniversary of the incident. When asked about the crash, he said, "I view it as a failure of the system to take care of us." Officer Balder was not the only Illinois policeman involved in a truck crash recently. State Trooper James Sauter was struck and killed in 2013 when his cruiser was rear-ended by semi. Officer Balder and the widow of Officer Sauter are advocating for the use of reckless homicide charges in cases like theirs.
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 trucking industry must comply with a multitude of complex rules and regulations to ensure safety on our nation's roads. Recently, the Obama administration announced a proposal that would refine existing safety programs, as well as introduce new initiatives.
If you've been following national news, you may have seen ongoing reports of a fatal bus-truck collision in California. A tractor-trailer collided with a motorcoach that was carrying about 40 high school students, and a bus window had to be kicked out for many of the students to escape. Flames engulfed the truck and the bus, and 10 people lost their lives. The tragedy underscores the need for updated safety standards for large buses.
Alcohol and drugs are frequent contributing factors to a wide variety of motor vehicle accidents. Substance abuse is a concern of the trucking industry where a single truck accident can claim multiple lives and cause tremendous damage. A review of several studies conducted concerning substance abuse and truck drivers has revealed a concerning pattern. Younger, less experienced drivers who are being paid less than older drivers are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol on the job. An impaired truck driver is an enormous threat to pedestrians and others on the road.