Late last month, the New York Times published an opinion piece on the need for tougher trucking regulations. The article – The Trucks are Killing Us – begins by pointing out some alarming statistics regarding tractor-trailer accidents and the tremendous damage they can cause on U.S roadways. The statistics included:
- More people in the U.S. will be killed in truck accidents this year than have been killed in all U.S. commercial airline crashes over the past 45 years.
- Fatalities in traffic accidents involving commercial trucks rose 17% from 2009-2013.
- From 2009-2013, fatalities in truck accidents have risen year over year. In 2013, the latest year for which data is available – there were 3,964 deaths caused by truck-involved crashes.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that commercial vehicle accidents – including bus accidents, cost roughly $99 billion each year
These statistics are nothing short of alarming, and if you to pay attention, it’s easy to realize these tragic crashes happen all the time. In fact, there seems to nearly always be news stories of truck accidents causing injuries and deaths, often to multiple victims. Amid the barrage of news media, however, only the most sensational tractor-trailer accidents get significant coverage – such as the crash that seriously injured Tracey Morgan, killed his friend and fellow comedian, and injured numerous others.
According to the op-ed author, this trend will persist if Congress continues to impede regulators’ abilities to oversee the trucking industry. In fact, Congress has even recently made efforts to roll back some safety improvements in the trucking industry, including:
- A push to permit truck drivers to work longer weeks – an increase from the current 70-hour limit over 8 days.
- Open discouragement of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) investing in wireless technology to improve oversight of truck drivers and vehicles.
- Expanding the maximum length and weight of commercial trucks.
- A proposed bill to lower the federal minimum age of interstate truck drivers from 21 to 18.
As the article makes clear by calling out Congress and the cold hard facts, lawmakers need to tighten safety regulations surrounding the trucking industry, not loosen them. Stronger standards may not eliminate all risks, but they can certainly help eliminate a number of preventable accidents – accidents like Tracy Morgan’s, which was caused by a fatigued driver who had been awake for more than 24 hours.
At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., our attorneys have worked with numerous individuals and families who suffered injuries and life-altering setbacks as a result of negligent trucking operators. We share the same roads as our clients, as do most local residents, and we believe regulators need support and resources in order to make these roads safe. Without it, we can only expect these tragic accidents to continue.