NTSB Wants Bigger Emphasis Put On Truck Maintenance

mechanicAccidents involving tractor trailers happen much too often. In fact, for every 100 million miles driven on U.S. highways, there are 2.3 deaths and 60.5 injuries caused by semis. Sadly, about 98 percent of all big rig accidents result in at least one fatality.

Just yesterday an accident shut down a highly-traveled Texas interstate for several hours after troopers say an 18-wheeler and pickup truck collided. The collision left one person dead and several others injuries. At this time, the crash remains under investigation.

Poor maintenance is one of the main reasons accidents involving semis occur. When an 18-wheeler’s brakes or tires aren’t regularly checked and replaced, the odds of an accident occurring increases significantly. Brake failure or a tire blowout can put many lives on the road in grave danger—including the driver of the semi.

That’s why the National Transportation Safety Board is urging drivers, government regulators and carriers to make routine maintenance a number one priority, paying extra attention to brake systems.

“We see issues regarding vehicles that aren’t well-maintained,” Acting NTSB chairman Christopher Hart told Transport Topics recently in an exclusive interview.

Hart stated that the uptick in truck-involved fatalities since 2009 caught NTSB members’ attention as they made up their annual “10 Most Wanted List” of critical transportation safety issues. The list was released last month.

While implementing additional safety measures won’t obviously happen overnight, Hart says he would like to see:

  • More advanced safety systems on heavy-duty trucks installed: NTSB authorities would like to see in-cab reporting of brake inspections done with sensors
  • Hands-free devices while driving banned: The NTSB consensus is that even though they are supposed to reduce distracted driving, they really don’t.
  • Commercial drivers educated on the dangers of taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs while behind the wheel: NTSB officials say there is still a lack of knowledge in this area in the trucking industry.
  • FMCSA act more quickly to place poorly performing carriers and drivers out of service: NTSB officials say FMCSA is often slow to take action against drivers and vehicles carriers with low ratings

The truck accident attorneys here at Leizerman & Associates stand by the NTSB’s efforts to promote safety on America’s highways. Over the years, we’ve represented far too many families in court who’ve experienced unimaginable tragedy due to a trucking crash.

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