As the rate of commercial truck accidents increases, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is calling for safety measures and increased oversight of truck drivers, vehicles and commercial trucking companies. The goal: To reduce the number of accidents involving other vehicles and reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by trucking accidents.
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The NTSB has created a list of 10 “most wanted safety improvements” for 2015. In addition to strengthening commercial trucking safety, other goals include positive train control, improved rail tanker car safety, reducing deadly distractions that lead to accidents, and making mass transit safer for passengers.
Due the to size and weight of commercial trucks and trailers, accidents involving private passenger vehicles such as cars, pick-up trucks and sports utility vehicles are more likely to cause serious injuries and deaths when compared to car versus car accidents. The NTSB reports that in 2012, commercial trucking accidents killed about 4,000 people and left more than 100,000 people injured.
Drivers of other vehicles involved in truck accidents, as well as injured passengers and pedestrians can file personal injury lawsuits against the truck driver, the driver’s employer, the shipper, truck manufacturer and owner. Under Illinois law, the statute of limitations, or deadline to file a lawsuit is two years from the date of the accident. A Chicago truck accident attorney can consult with victims to discuss whether there is grounds for a lawsuit.
Recent High-Profile Trucking Accidents
The NTSB points to several recent accidents that have called attention to the need for more truck safety measures.
In 2014, comedian Tracy Morgan was critically injured while riding in a limousine bus that was rear ended by a Walmart tractor-trailer on the New Jersey Turnpike. His friend, fellow comedian writer James McNair was killed in the accident.
The NTSB’s investigation found that the truck’s driver, Kevin Roper, drove his personal vehicle for 12 hours before beginning his 14-hour commercial driving shift. Fatigue was a primary cause of the accident. Roper was also driving 20 mph over the posted speed limit of 45 mph, and failed to brake when cars in front of him slowed down. Walmart settled lawsuits with McNair’s family, Morgan and other injured passengers while saying that its driver did not break any rules.
The NTSB also cites April 10, 2014, accident that underscores the need for improved trucking safety measures. In that crash, which occurred on I-5 in Northern California, a Federal Express truck slammed into a bus carrying high school students who were destined for a college campus. The collision resulted in 10 deaths: Five students, three chaperons, the bus driver and the truck driver.
NTSB Safety Improvement Suggestions
According to the NTSB:
“Commercial truck safety is a multifaceted issue involving the vehicles, the companies that operate them, the drivers, and the oversight agencies. Any successful effort to strengthen commercial trucking safety must be a collaborative effort.”
The Board says that regulators, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) all bear responsibility for working to improve truck safety in an effort to reduce commercial trucking accidents. Among the NTSB’s safety suggestions:
- Better monitoring of trucking companies’ safety compliance.
- Stronger oversight to ensure safety issues are addressed and corrected in a timely manner.
- Immediately taking trucks, drivers and/or trucking companies out of service if safety problems cannot be addressed and resolved.
- New regulations that ensure bad trucking companies don’t simply re-incorporate under new names to avoid addressing safety issues.
The NTSB goes on to say:
“[R]egulators must promote proper fleet maintenance and proven life-saving technology. Vehicle inspections should be required during compliance reviews, and vehicle safety equipment and technology, such as collision warning technology, tire pressure monitoring systems, rollover stability control systems, and lane departure warning systems, should be mandated across the entire industry.”
Personal Injury Compensation for Truck Accident Victims
If you’ve been hurt or a loved one has been killed or injured in an accident with a commercial truck, a Chicago truck accident attorney can review the details of the accident, and gather police reports, the NTSB accident report and safety records for both the truck driver and his or her employer.
If appropriate, the Chicago truck accident attorney may also work with experts to inspect the damage to the vehicles involved in the incident, and visit the scene of the accident.
Under Illinois personal injury laws, truck accident victims may be entitled to compensation for:
- Medical expenses for accident-related injuries
- Compensation for any temporary or permanent disabilities caused by the accident
- Lost wages while recuperating from injuries
- Pain and suffering
- The cost of repairing or replacing any property (such as a motor vehicle and clothing) that was damaged or destroyed in the accident
- Other accident-related expenses