Among the six research topics that the American Transportation Research Institute considers a priority for 2019, one is a revision of the cost-benefit analysis concerning truck safety technology. Truckers in Louisiana may have heard of or had first-hand experience with safety devices like lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking and collision mitigation systems.
Just as members of the Truck Safety Coalition were pushing for stricter truck safety regulations, lawmakers introduced a bill that, if passed, would take one important step toward this goal. Truckers and truck fleet owners in Louisiana should know that the bill, H.R. 3773, will require all new commercial trucks to have automatic emergency braking installed.
People in Louisiana who are concerned about road safety may be interested to learn that the Department of Transportation intends to relax federal regulations regarding the number of hours truck drivers can be behind the wheel. The trucking industry has been appealing for less stringent federal rules regarding how long truck drivers can remain on the road without rest. However, safety advocates assert that loosening the federal regulations will make them weaker and result in safety hazards caused by fatigued drivers.
Large truck crash deaths are on the rise. According to the federal government, there was a 28 percent increase in them from 2009 to 2017. A total of 4,102 people died in truck crashes in 2017 with 68 percent of those being car occupants. Louisiana residents should know that many truck safety groups are proposing a remedy to this trend: new truck safety technology.
As many citizens of Louisiana may already know, large trucks can be hazardous to motorists in smaller vehicles. From 2009 to 2007, big rig crashes claimed 35,882 lives. This increase comes even though the number of miles driven by these trucks has decreased.
Louisiana residents who have questions about compensation after a crash involving a truck should remember the different causes of commercial truck accidents. Over the past decade, the number of accidents involving trucks has gone up by roughly 20 percent. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study, a collaboration between the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), sought to determine the most common causes of these accidents and discovered that the majority are caused by the driver.
Truckers in Louisiana know that their vehicles are not required to have crash avoidance systems. The choice is entirely up to each individual fleet owner. However, some groups are pushing for mandatory crash avoidance technology on all large commercial trucks as a way to improve safety. According to federal data, there has been a 28 percent increase in large truck fatalities from 2009 to 2016.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, or CVSA, placed almost 12,000 truck and buses out of service in Louisiana and across North America as part of an inspection blitz. The event, known as International Roadcheck, completed a total of 67,502 roadside inspections over a three-day period. During this time, 2,664 drivers and 11,897 vehicles were ordered out of service. Approximately 45,400 of these inspections were Level I inspections, the most thorough type of inspection.
Statistically speaking, truck accidents might not be the greatest threat on the roads around New Orleans. The greater volume of cars makes crashes between smaller vehicles more likely. But when they happen, collisions involving commercial vehicles tend to be more serious. Trucks are bigger and heavier. They also travel at posted speeds or better, making them formidable destructive forces in a crash.