truck-accidentsTwo safety regulators, the NHTSA and the FMCSA, have proposed a joint rule to help reduce large truck crashes. The rule would require large trucks and buses to be equipped with speed limiting devices. The proposal would affect all newly manufactured trucks, school buses and multipurpose vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of 26,000 pounds or more. Each vehicle would be required to have its device set to a specified speed.

Safety administrations feel that this truck speed limiting safety measures could affect force of impact in the event of a crash and could save lives. The proposal addresses the benefits of setting maximum speeds of 60, 65 and 68 miles per hour. According to the Wall Street Journal, the government agencies said that capping the speeds on new large vehicles would reduce the 1,115 fatal crashes involving large trucks that occur each year. The speed limiting devices could also save $1 billion in fuel costs.

Studies in the proposal examined the relationship between travel speed and crash severity. It was concluded that the severity of a crash increases with increased travel speed. Furthermore, research found that the effect of this kinetic energy in a crash is particularly relevant for combination trucks, such as tractor-trailers, due to their large mass. Higher speeds also affect the brake time of trucks,  significantly increasing the distance it takes to come to a stop.

Researchers studied truck crashes that occurred between 2004 and 2013 where speed likely contributed to the severity of the crash. During that time period, safety administrations estimated that truck crashes resulted in 10,440 speed-related fatalities.

Large Truck Crash Statistics

The NHTSA Truck Safety Facts 2014 Data released earlier this year found that in 2014, there were 3,903 people killed in crashes involving large trucks. An estimated 111,000 people were injured in large truck crashes. This was an increase of 17 percent over the previous year. 73 percent of those people killed in large truck crashes were the occupants of other vehicles. With these facts, any measure that safety administrators can implement and enforce to reduce truck accidents and protect lives should be taken.

As truck and car accident lawyers who see the devastation and traumatic injuries caused by large truck accidents, we feel it’s important that this be addressed. Read the entire proposed trucking rule.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident, call the truck accident attorneys at Distasio Kowaslski in Wilkes-Barre today at 570-970-5400. You need an attorney who is experienced at litigating truck accident cases and fighting for the injured.



Close call imminent crash accident with a tractor trailer truck viewed from inside a passenger car with scared driver face in rear view mirror
Close call imminent crash accident with a tractor trailer truck viewed from inside a passenger car with scared driver face in rear view mirror

73% of all fatalities in a truck accident in 2014 were the occupants of other vehicles, according to the NHTSA. The immense size and weight of large trucks can result in devastation for a passenger vehicle and its occupants when it comes to a collision. This is especially true in the event of truck underride crashes.

Few truck accidents are more destructive than those that involve a passenger car getting lodged underneath a large semi-truck. The bed of a trailer is often higher than the hood of a standard car. In an underride or undercarriage crash, a car goes partially or completely under a truck or trailer. This dramatically increases the chance of severe injury or death. A car can go under the rear of a truck or may also get lodged under the side of a truck or tractor-trailer. This is referred to as a side underride crash.

Large trucks and semitrailers are required to have undererride guards. They are large steel bars that hang from the rear of a truck to prevent a passenger vehicle from getting lodged underneath in the event of a truck collision. Truck underride guards are not currently required on the sides of large trucks or on the rear of smaller trucks, such as garbage trucks.

Even in a low speed collision, a passenger vehicle can become lodged under a tractor-trailer. This happens often if the proper guards are not in place or if there are not adequate guard safety standards. Some existing guards are just not strong enough to prevent a car from sliding underneath the truck. Side underride collisions most often occur when a truck driver is attempting to turn across traffic onto a street, attempting a U-turn or backing across traffic. The driver of a passenger vehicle may not see the truck in its path until it is too late and a collision is unavoidable.

The top of the passenger vehicle is often ripped off or crushed in a truck underride crash. This often causes severe head and neck injuries or death to the passengers inside. Truck underride crashes also occur with bicyclists who don’t see a truck turning, crash and become lodged under the truck.

The NHTSA has issued improved rear safety guard standards for newer model large trucks. These standards are often not required on older model trucks. Existing guards may also not offer complete protection when a car crashes into one of the rear corners of a tractor-trailer. While lethal side underride crashes continue, there is still no law requiring side guards. Safety advocates have petitioned the NHTSA to strengthen laws and implement a new standard for underride guards. The NHTSA is moving slowly in taking action and implementing stronger truck underride guard standards.

How to prevent fatal truck underride crashes

There’s much that can be done to protect passenger car occupants from the dangers of truck underride crashes. This includes strengthening existing truck underride guards that might not be adequate in high-speed crashes. Expanding requirements to include guards on older model trucks will also help to prevent these deadly crashes. Legislation requiring side guards for all large trucks should be implemented as well.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck underride accident, call the truck accident attorneys at Distasio Kowaslski. Call the attorneys in Wilkes-Barre today at 570-970-5400. You need a lawyer who is experienced at litigating truck accident cases and in dealing with their insurance companies. The attorneys at Distasio, Kowalski & Yelen serve the Wilkes-Barre, Scranton and Hazleton area in NEPA.