New Study Suggests Increase In Tractor Trailer Safety Laws And Regulation Enforcement Could Drastically Reduce Traffic Fatalities
Data shows tractor trailers cause over 4,500 deaths each year. A new study from the International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion has found that these deaths could be reduced with an increase in tractor trailer safety regulations and the enforcement of existing truck and driver regulations.
Tractor trailers are responsible for 4,500 deaths each year in the United States. Data from the International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion states that tractor trailer accidents not only cause 8 percent of all U.S. highway traffic, but they also cause 11 percent of all fatal road crashes. A study from Tennessee examining truck crashes over a five year period found that most tractor trailer crashes stem from the same issues.
The study examined over 1,000 tractor trailer accidents, and examined the crashes for possible causes including traffic, driver, type of vehicle, environmental factors, geometric factors, and 10 other possible traffic causes. Surprisingly, the study found that the volume of tractor trailers on the road increases the severity of tractor trailer accidents. Just an additional one percent of trucks on the road increased traffic crashes significantly. Other significant accident causes were speeds over 45 MPH, male drivers, speeding, and driving while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medication. The study found that high speeds doubled fatal accident risk and impaired drivers increased the fatal accident risk seven times.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has stated that in 2005, over 442,000 tractor trailers were involved in accidents. These accidents led to the deaths of over 5,000 people and a cost of over $30 billion. Safety advocates hope that by improving safety laws for tractor trailers and increasing driver regulations these fatalities and injuries will decrease.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Association estimates that nearly 40 percent of all tractor trailer accidents are the result of driver fatigue. The NHTSA cites a lack of driver regulation enforcement as the cause of many of these crashes. Mechanical failure of the vehicle and defective trucks are also an issue in many dangerous tractor trailer accidents, according to the NHTSA. The NHTSA states that trucking companies should increase regulation and the enforcement of both driver regulations and ensure that trucks are safe to drive on the road before sending tractor trailers out on public roadways.
However, truck companies and tractor trailers are loosely regulated. The National Traffic and Motor vehicle Safety Act of 1966, unchanged for nearly 50 years, states that trucking manufacturers can certify their equipment and vehicles for safety and federal standards even without testing. The NHTSA and other highway safety commissions have stated that increasing the regulation on trucks and driving limits can drastically reduce the number of injuries and fatalities caused by tractor trailers. However, until these new laws and regulations are put into practice, driving on the same road as tractor trailers continues to be a dangerous business.