The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) release of the 2017 Fatality Analysis Reporting System data shows that crashes involving at least one large truck claimed 4,761 lives in 2017 – a staggering nine percent increase from 2016. Unfortunately, this is part of an alarming, larger trend of truck safety on the decline. From 2009 to 2017, truck crash fatalities have gone up by 41 percent throughout our nation, with 44 states experiencing more truck crash deaths in 2017 than in 2009.
Common sense and data-driven solutions such as automatic emergency braking (AEB), speed limiters, and underride guards can save lives and prevent injuries today. The public can no longer wait for the regulatory process to create safety rules given its history of past delays.
Lawmakers should take immediate action to introduce legislation that will require NHTSA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to mandate that all trucks be equipped with AEB and speed limiters, and all trailers be equipped with effective rear and side underride guards.
It is time for Members of Congress to abandon attempts to roll back existing safety regulations like Electronic Logging Devices and Hours of Service rules. It is time for lawmakers to stop pandering to lobbyists pushing for longer and heavier trucks at the behest of several large mega-carriers. And, it is time for our elected officials to finally address long-standing issues, like outdated minimum insurance levels and the lack of sleep apnea screening for truck drivers.
These troubling trends must be reversed and truck crash deaths must be reduced. We cannot accept the continued increase in truck crash fatalities as the cost of doing business.