NTSB issues recommendations to improve truck safety

The National Transportation Safety Board has issued recommendations it believes will reduce fatal truck accidents.

Large trucks, such as tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers or delivery vehicles are the backbone of our consumer-driven society. However, due to their large size and heavy weight, when these types of vehicles are involved in an accident, they pose a great danger to pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and smaller vehicles. Unfortunately, these truck accidents often result in fatalities.

To cut down on the risk of such accidents, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently issued recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) urging it to take regulatory action.

Blind spot mitigation

One of the primary recommendations that the NTSB issued to the NHTSA concerns blind spots. It has long been known that tractor-trailers and other large vehicles have blind spots in the front, rear and sides of the vehicle. Of particular concern is the blind spot to the right of the cab, which is much larger than the others and has been cited as the cause of numerous collisions with pedestrians, motorists and motorcyclists. Due to their lack of protection, pedestrians and cyclists are particularly vulnerable in such collisions. According to the NTSB, about 1,430 cyclists and pedestrians were killed in collisions with trucks during the 2005-2009 period.

The NTSB recommendations urge the NHTSA to pass regulations that are similar to the ones in place for alleviating blind spots in passenger vehicles. By suggesting regulations requiring back-up cameras, fender mirrors, sensors and other safety measures, the NTSB hopes to reduce the number of fatal truck accidents caused by blind spots.

Underride protection

Another area of concern in the NTSB recommendations is the problem of truck side impacts. According to the NHTSA, 15 percent of fatal collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles involved a collision with the side of the truck. The primary reason for this is because such collisions run the risk of a side underride-when the passenger vehicle slides underneath the trailer due to the differences in height. In this type of collision the vehicle occupants are not protected by bumpers, airbags and crumple zones, which significantly increases the risk of a fatality.

The NTSB recommendations call for a redesign of the sides and rear of tractor-trailers to make an under ride less likely.

Speak to an attorney

Since the NTSB does not have any regulatory authority, the recommendations do not have any force of law. It is now up to the NHTSA to decide whether to implement regulations addressing the NTSB's concerns.

If, in the meantime, you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, it is wise to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney, since many such accidents are caused by violations of safety regulations and other forms of negligence. An attorney can discover if this is the case and work to hold the responsible parties accountable.

Keywords: truck accidents, car accidents

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