More Oversight of Large Trucks and Trucking Companies Needed Rather than Less Regulation

by | Sep 1, 2015 | Truck Accident

Our Oklahoma truck accident attorneys report on a recent article in The New York Times that emphasizes that serious truck accidents will continue to occur until Congress stops coddling the trucking industry.
A recent article in The New York Times emphasizes that serious truck accidents will continue to occur until Congress stops coddling the trucking industry and undercutting the efforts of federal truck safety regulators to improve safety.

The article notes that more people will die this year in accidents involving large trucks, such as tractor trailers and flatbeds, than have been killed in commercial airplane accidents in 45 years.

In 2013, accidents involving 18 wheelers killed 3,964 people and caused an estimated 95,000 people injuries. Closer to home, 112 people were killed in accidents involving large trucks in 2013 in Oklahoma.

Increase in Accidents Involving Large Trucks

The death toll from big trucks nationwide increased 17 percent from 2009 to 2013, the most recent year of complete data, even as car accidents fell three percent. Big trucks are involved in a disproportionate share of fatal traffic accidents. Trucks represent about four percent of registered vehicles on the road, but were involved in nine percent of all fatal accidents in 2013.

Lawmakers in Congress have pressed to allow commercial truck drivers to work longer work weeks by scrapping the requirement that drivers take a two-day rest break each week. They have discouraged the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration, which oversees the trucking industry, from investing in wireless technology to monitor drivers and their vehicles. They have signaled openness to allowing longer and heavier trucks, despite widespread public opposition. Congress also supports lowering the minimum age for commercial truck drivers from 21 to 18 years old.

The findings of the investigation of the 2014 truck accident that injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed another comedian illustrate why Congress should be moving to tighten its oversight of the truck industry rather than relax the regulations, according to The New York Times.

As outlined in the report on the cause of the crash recently released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the truck driver who caused the crash involving Morgan, had been on duty 13 and a half hours. Prior to the start of his driving shift, he had driven 12 hours from his home in Georgia to pick up the truck at a facility Delaware, so he had been awake for 28 consecutive hours at the time of the collision.

The NTSB found that the truck driver had disregarded work-zone warning signs on the New Jersey Turnpike and a drop in the posted speed limit to 45 m.p.h. rather than 65 m.p.h. before the accident. Because of road work activity and traffic, Morgan’s Mercedes van was moving at less than 10 m.p.h. at the time of the collision.

The fatigued truck driver, who was slow to react according to the NTSB, struck the van flipping it on its side. According to the NTSB, if the driver had heeded the work zone warnings and slowed to 45 m.p.h., he should have been able to bring the truck to a stop before crashing.

Many accidents are caused by trucks that are unable to stop in time and collide with a vehicle in front. Technology is available to the manufacturers of heavy trucks to reduce or prevent the impact of rear end collisions. Only about three percent of tractor trailers are equipped with collision avoidance technology, the article stated. The U.S. trucking industry has avoided using safety technologies because of their cost.

Truckers, Trucking Companies Should Be Responsible for Harm They Cause

If you or a family member has been injured in an accident caused by a truck driver anywhere in Oklahoma, talk to a truck accident lawyer experienced at holding trucking companies accountable for the harm they cause.