Not Just Driver Fatigue
Remember our April blog post on new regulations aimed at curbing truck driver fatigue? While truckers continue to complain about these safety measures, there’s a reason they exist: to save lives.
More than 4,300 people were killed in collisions with semi trucks and tractor trailers in 2016 — a 28 percent increase over 2009, according to a Kansas City Star investigation published last month.
The newspaper used the airliner analogy to underscore the severity of that statistic.
As plaintiffs lawyers who have handled a number of these cases, we wish we could say we are surprised by these numbers. But through our work, we’ve been exposed to the seamy underside of the industry, where some truckers are all too willing to fudge records and cut corners to make their next delivery.
And driver fatigue is just the half of it.
The Star highlighted the instances of rear-end crashes with semi trucks and tractor trailers — often the deadliest of accidents, and arguably the easiest to prevent.
They pointed in particular to a University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study, which found that at least 300 people die and 15,000 are injured annually in wrecks where a semi runs into the back of another vehicle.
Now, here’s what’s particularly galling about those statistics, and what the newspaper does an excellent job of pointing out: It involves the notion of preventable error.
According to the Star investigation, the industry has been fighting tooth and nail against certain types of technology that would most assuredly reduce the number of rear-end trucking accidents.
We’re talking about automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning systems and other high-tech safety features — things that have become increasingly common in passenger vehicles. While this type of technology can’t eliminate human error, it can provide a safety net for everybody on the road.
At least that’s what safety advocates are saying, and they’ve been studying the issue for years.