Spike in big truck accidents increases call for changes

Large trucks in Ohio and other parts of the country aren’t required to use crash-avoidance technology, which has long been a concern for some drivers who have to share the road with such vehicles. There is an increased call for industry changes following the release of federal data that shows a nearly 30 percent spike in accidents involving tractor-trailers, semis and other large trucks over a seven-year period. In spite of the increased risk, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not pushed for the mandatory use of crash avoidance technology.

Surprisingly, very few semis and other larger vehicles have the type of technology that’s designed to minimize the risk of truck accidents. On numerous occasions since 1990, the National Transportation Safety Board has suggested that the NHTSA draft or propose regulations requiring larger trucks to have crash avoidance systems. Still, the agency has failed to act. The NHTSA has responded to the criticism by stating that it is in the process of field-testing automatic emergency braking systems. Trucking companies already using such technology claim that it can effectively prevent many rear-end truck collisions.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association argues that mandating the use of collision avoidance technology would be too much of a burden for smaller trucking companies. Lobbying associations are also insisting that adoption of this type of technology should be voluntary, not mandatory. On the other hand, there are some lawmakers who are using recent big truck accident stats as part of efforts to urge Congress to step in and take action.

When truck accidents that involve injuries to other drivers or pedestrians do occur, a personal injury lawyer may be able to determine if there is sufficient cause to pursue litigation. The investigation process may involve reviewing truck inspection records, electronic logs showing driver hours and a trucking company’s overall safety record. Accident victims might be entitled to compensation for medical expenses incurred, future health-related costs and lost earnings.