Drivers in states like New York and Vermont are likely accustomed to sharing the road with large commercial trucks. Today, according to the American Trucking Association, roughly 70 percent of "the freight tonnage moved in the U.S. goes on trucks."
If involved in a crash or collision with a large commercial truck, the drivers and passengers of smaller personal vehicles are likely to suffer serious or fatal injuries. For this reason, the commercial trucking industry takes safety very seriously and is one of the most regulated of all U.S. industries. Given the high stakes involved when a semi truck is involved in an accident, truck drivers are often signaled out and unfairly targeted as being at fault. In reality, in the vast percentage of truck accidents, drivers of passenger vehicles are at fault.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its analysis of 2013 motor vehicle accident data in December. It seems that 2013 was the safest year ever on American highways. Unless, of course, you were involved in a crash with a tractor-trailer.
A semi truck accident can be very violent, and sometimes people get seriously hurt. But despite perceptions held by some people that most truck accidents are caused by the truck driver, many collisions that occur happen because of events beyond the driver’s control.
Yesterday, a Senate Committee on Appropriations approved an amendment that would effectively suspend the current Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) hours of service (HOS) 34-hour restart mandate. If the amended bill is passed, the restart mandate will be suspended for one year while the government undertakes a field study on the issue.
We are circling back to our discussion about the National Transportation Safety Board's recommendations regarding tractor-trailer safety standards. The recommendations went to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the hope that the agency will adopt them quickly. To date, we have talked about the problems of blind spots for big rigs.
We are continuing our discussion from our last post about the National Transportation Safety Board's report on tractor-trailer safety. The board suggests that the current standards should be updated to take new technology and recent research into consideration. The report was sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in early April and asked that the agency respond within 90 days. That response should include details of how the NTSB's concerns are being addressed or will be addressed in the future.
Investigators continue to look for clues as they try to understand why a FedEx truck crossed the median on a California highway and slammed head-on into a tour bus. This is the kind of tragedy the National Transportation Safety Board investigates. When the board has completed its work, it will issue a final report; if warranted, it will also issue safety recommendations for the trucking industry or any other stakeholders.
For a while now, the National Transportation Safety Board has been looking at ways to make tractor-trailers safer for their drivers and for the vehicles they share the road with. The NTSB, however, is chiefly an independent investigative body; the board can only make recommendations. The formal adoption and enforcement of safety standards falls to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a federal agency that is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation.