A total of 4,102 people died in truck crashes in 2017, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).[1] The majority of those people (82 percent) were occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorists.[2] The most common fatal injury in trucking accidents is being crushed by falling in the exposed space between the front and rear wheels of a truck.[3] According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, truck crashes are more likely to be side impact crashes.[4] In fact, between 2005 and 2009, 556 pedestrians and bicyclists in the U.S. were killed after side-impacts with trucks.[5]

Lives can be saved by implementing measures to help prevent side-impacts with trucks. One such measure is the installation of side guards on trucks with high ground clearance. A number of studies conducted in the United Kingdom, Australia, Sweden, and the Netherlands show that side guards dramatically decrease the number of fatalities in trucking accidents.[6] After truck side guards were mandated in the U.K., cyclist fatalities dropped 61 percent and pedestrian fatalities dropped 20 percent for side-impact accidents.[7]


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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released their annual Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) numberson October 3rd 2018, which shows that roadway fatalities were down 2 percent year-over-year in 2017. In spite of this, the NHTSA warned that this decrease did not necessarily indicate “an across-the-board trend.”

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The American Association for Justice (AAJ) has submitted comments in response to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) advance notice of proposed rulemaking for hours-of-service (HOS) for commercial truck drivers. The rulemaking process was first announced at the end of August 2018, when the FMCSA declared that they would be reviewing the existing HOS regulations which limit the total operating hours a commercial truck driver works on duty.

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According to the U.S. federal government statistics, over 4,300 people have been killed in crashes involving tractor-trailers and other large trucks in 2016, which is a 28 percent increase over 2009. Fatal truck crashes are growing at almost three times the rate of deadly crashes overall in the U.S. For years, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has supported life-saving legislation that would require all heavy trucks to be equipped with crash-avoidance technology.

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A new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report found that truck safety technologies can prevent as many as 77,077 crashes, 23,275 injuries, and the loss of 500 lives per year. The report, Leveraging Large Truck Technology and Engineering to Realize Safety Gains, examined the safety benefits and costs of installing four advanced safety technologies in existing and new large trucks.

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A new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report found that truck safety technologies can prevent as many as 77,077 crashes, 23,275 injuries, and the loss of 500 lives per year. The report, Leveraging Large Truck Technology and Engineering to Realize Safety Gains, examined the safety benefits and costs of installing four advanced safety technologies in existing and new large trucks.

In 2015, large trucks were involved in more than 400,000 crashes that resulted in more than 4,000 deaths and 116,000 injuries.

AAA Report Illustrates Potential Impact of Individual Safety Technologies

AAA recommends that all large trucks – those already on the road as well as new trucks – be equipped with cost effective technologies that improve safety on the road.


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Highway fatalities are climbing and the nation’s roads and bridges are deteriorating at a fast pace; nonetheless the trucking industry is again asking Congress to permit a new generation of heavier trucks. The higher weight limit is supported in part by the trucking industry and by shippers who would benefit from moving heavier loads.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2015,” 4,311 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes in 2015, an eight-percent increase from 2014.

Truck driver fatigue, speeding, and the difficulty of stopping a heavy vehicle all contribute to the disproportionate involvement of trucks in crashes. Many fatal truck crashes involve rear-end collisions. These crashes are usually caused when trucks come up on stalled vehicles.


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A recent study conducted by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) found that speed-related, at-fault truck crashes dropped by 73 percent after mandatory speed limiter technology legislation took effect in Ontario, Canada.

Other findings of the study include:

  • Post 2009, large truck drivers produced fewer at-fault speed collisions relative to all at-fault driver actions
  • There is no evidence to suggest worse collision outcomes for large truck drivers post 2009
  • The percentage of truck drivers that were struck from the rear stayed more-or-less the same from pre- to post-legislation (10.03 percent of total collisions 2006-2008 and 10.47 percent 2010-2012), whereas for other drivers the rate increased (18.6 percent 2006-2008 and 21.3 percent 2010-2012)

The year-long study dispelled opponents’ position that requiring large trucks to slow down would lead to rear-end crashes. The study further discounted the contention that speed limiters would cause truck drivers to adjust their driving habits to compensate for lost time resulting from slower driving.

The study found no evidence that speed limiters contributed to an increase in collisions involving truck drivers, including rear-end crashes.


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In an attempt to keep insurance rate increases down, and possibly avoid cancellation, some trucking companies are implementing policies requiring truckers to use certain safety technology — such as onboard cameras and cellphone call/text blockers.

Onboard video cameras can capture risky driving and crash or road rage footage. Also, the video footage can be used in employee training and the employee review process. Overriding some drivers’ objections to being monitored by dashboard cameras for privacy and other reasons, the trucking companies noted that there are also benefits to such monitoring for the drivers. Video dashboard monitors can help a driver correct safety-related driving errors.


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