The Most Wanted Safety Improvements in Trucking
Every two years, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) releases a list of its “most wanted” safety improvements for the transportation field in the coming years. The NTSB is a federal agency that investigates transportation-related accidents (including large truck crashes) to determine their cause, and their biannual list of the most wanted safety improvements is based on their investigations and research over the previous years.The “most wanted” list is, according to the NTSB itself, the agency’s premier advocacy tool, and it identifies potential safety improvements that would reduce property damage, prevent injuries, and save lives. Their recommendations are also, in the NTSB’s words, “ripe for action.”
It’s important to note that these safety improvements aren’t simply part of some utopian vision for crash-free highways. These data-driven, practical measures could help combat an ongoing and alarming rise in highway deaths — many of which result from devastating trucking accidents.
“From 2014 to 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, highway fatalities increased by 7.2 percent — the largest percentage increase since before the NTSB was founded [in 1967],” said NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart in remarks accompanying the release of the 2017-2018 “most wanted” list.
“Before this turn for the worse, the highway safety community’s progress looked good, with fatalities generally declining for decades,” he continued. “This setback is a reminder that safety is not a destination, but a continuing journey, and our efforts to improve safety must never stop.”
Most Wanted Safety Improvements Include Better Implementation of Collision Avoidance Technology and Reduction of Fatigue-Related Accidents
Although not all of the NTSB’s recommendations apply to the trucking industry (a few are geared specifically toward the railway and aviation industries), the majority of them do — which makes sense given that the trucking industry accounts for far more fatalities each year than other transportation industries. In 2014, for example, 3,903 people died in large truck crashes in the United States, compared to 765 deaths caused by trains and 444 aviation-related deaths.
The NTSB’s most wanted safety improvements for the trucking industry for 2017-2018 include:
- Increase Implementation of Collision Avoidance Technologies
This includes technologies such as collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, which are available now for commercial trucks. The NTSB recommends that trucking companies begin installing at least forward collision warning systems in all their fleets, pointing to a 2015 University of Michigan survey of trucking companies which showed that these systems reduced crashes by 14 percent.
- End Alcohol and Drug Impairment in Transportation
While the NTSB recognizes that alcohol and street drug impairment is a concern in transportation, they also note that the impairing effects of prescription and OTC medications are also potentially deadly and severely under-studied. As a result, they recommend monitoring commercial drivers’ medical conditions and medications for any health issues or medication side effects and interactions that could impair their judgment and reflexes while driving.
- Reduce Fatigue-Related Accidents
As we’ve discussed before, fatigued driving is one of the most widespread and dangerous safety issues the trucking industry faces today. The NTSB’s proposed solutions to the problem of truck driver fatigue include widespread implementation of electronic logging devices (ELDs) to ensure compliance with hours-of-service regulations as well as instituting programs that identify and help treat individuals who are at risk for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is a leading cause of truck driver fatigue.
- Eliminate Distractions
The rising epidemic of distracted driving is one of the biggest challenges in traffic safety today; in 2015 alone, it caused 3,477 fatalities in car and truck crashes. The trucking industry is no exception to this problem, especially given the long and tedious nature of truck-driving shifts, which inevitably invite the temptation to use smartphones and other personal electronic devices (PEDs) for entertainment. To address this issue, the NTSB recommends a three-pronged approach that includes stricter laws against the use of PEDs while driving, more effective enforcement of distracted driving laws, and better education efforts directed at drivers.
- Expand Recorder Use to Enhance Safety
Recording technologies — especially video recorders — can capture and store critical information that helps investigators determine the cause of a crash. Most trucks and buses still lack these technologies even though they are readily available, easy to install, and generally affordable. To address this issue, the NTSB recommends that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the main regulatory body for the trucking industry, require all large trucks and other heavy commercial vehicles be equipped with video recorders that capture information about the driver and road conditions in the event of a crash.
While the NTSB’s recommendations won’t prevent every trucking accident, each one of them can play an important role in reducing large truck crashes — and given the deadly nature of trucking accidents, every single crash prevented can lead to lives saved or life-altering injuries averted.
Contact the Truck Wreck Justice Team If You’ve Been Hurt by a Truck or Bus
If a large truck or bus crash has injured you or someone you love, Truck Wreck Justice Attorney Morgan Adams is here to help. With years of experience and a sole focus on commercial vehicle cases, Morgan Adams has the skillset and expert resources needed to tackle the complex challenges of your trucking accident case.
Please contact Truck Wreck Justice at (432) 265-2020 or fill out our online contact form if you need legal representation or assistance. We offer free consultations during which we can assess your situation and discuss your legal options, and we handle cases on a contingent fee basis, which means that you won’t pay for fees or case expenses unless we achieve a settlement or a judgment in your favor.
Aviation: data and stats. (2016, September 2). National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved from https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/data/Pages/AviationDataStats2014.aspx
Hart, C.A. (2016, November 14). Remarks at the NTSB 2017-2018 most wanted list press conference at the National Press Club, Washington, DC. National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved from https://www.ntsb.gov/news/speeches/CHart/Pages/hart_20161114.aspx
National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2016, May). Large trucks: 2014 data. (Traffic Safety Facts. Report No. DOT HS 812 279). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812279
National Transportation Safety Board. (2016, November). NTSB 2017-2018 most wanted list of transportation safety improvements. Washington, DC: National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved from https://www.ntsb.gov/safety/mwl/Documents/2017-18/MWL-Brochure2017-18.pdf
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.