Deaths in truck crashes can be reduced if feds take these steps now, national safety board saysApril 7, 2021
The independent federal government agency that investigates transportation crashes on Tuesday said limiting how fast trucks can go and installing braking systems to automatically stop trucks before crashing into the vehicle in front of them are among its 10 most wanted safety improvements for the next two years.
The National Transportation Safety Board included several long-standing recommendations designed to reduce crashes on the nation’s highways. NJ Advance Media reported that in January that 5,005 people died in truck crashes in 2019, up 36% over a decade, while safety solutions were ignored by the government and industry.
In trying to end crashes caused by speeding, the safety board called for developing standards to limit how fast trucks and buses can do, and then require they be installed on new heavy vehicles.
The board also called on federal regulators to issue standards for commercial vehicle systems warning drivers of collisions and automatically stopping a truck or bus, and then to require such technology in all vehicles.
“We’ve called for a long time for collision avoidance systems on trucks,” Board Chair Robert Sumwalt said.
The U.S. House last year approved transportation legislation that gave the federal government one year to set standards for automatic braking systems and require them to be turned on when a truck was being driven. Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-7th Dist., a member of the House Transportation Committee said that lawmakers planned to include the provision in its new infrastructure legislation.
A coalition of 40 safety groups, insurance companies, consumer organizations, labor unions and others asked Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to include safety measures such as automatic breaking and collision warning systems in trucks in the new $2 trillion infrastructure bill.
Another most wanted safety improvement was ending distracted driving, such as the use of cell phones or other devices by a driver. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
Dan Horvath, vice president for safety policy for the American Trucking Associations, an industry group, said that’s a major issue for truckers.
“We hear it all the time from drivers out there that it’s a huge issue,” Horvath said.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., have introduced legislation providing funding to states to enforce distracted driving laws.
The safety board said it has spent more than 25 years calling for systems designed to avoid collisions.
“These are marathons and it takes a long time,” said Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, an alliance of consumer, health, law enforcement and insurance industry groups. “Unfortunately, a lot of preventable deaths are happening, which is the true tragedy, while we have the proper technology to prevent or mitigate fatalities and injuries.”
Missing from this year’s most wanted list are efforts to address driver fatigue, including testing for…