NTSB Forum on Truck Safety
The National Transportation Safety Board has come together with federal regulators, safety experts, and the truck and bus industry representative to discuss ways fatal accidents can be prevented, and to examine why past safety recommendations were never enacted.
In recent years fatal accidents involving big trucks have dropped, but more needs to be done. According to the Transportation Department there were about 5,200 deaths in 2005 and 3,200 deaths in 2009. Some experts suggest the decline is directly related the weakened economy—less people are out driving the roads, so less people are in harm’s way. There is speculation that as the economy improves, fatal accidents will spike.
Driver fatigue is a contributing factor in about 40 percent of all truck crashes. The Obama administration aims to improve bus and truck regulations—limit hours drivers are on the road, and require mandatory rests breaks. Also on the table is safety technology such as electronic stability control to prevent rollovers, adaptive cruise control that automatically adjusts speed to traffic, and warning systems that alert drivers if they drifting into another lane.
The American Trucking Associations maintain that such changes would economically damage the industry without really improving safety. There is concern that the industry will oppose any safety mandates. (Forbes.com)