Large truck accidents in Pennsylvania cause catastrophic injuries, usually suffered by those in smaller passenger vehicles or vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians.
Consumer Reports reveals that crashes involving large trucks have been on the upswing nationally, with more than 4,300 people killed in such collisions in 2016. That is an increase of 5.4 percent from the previous year.
How technology can make our roads safer
While auto manufacturers on the whole have been prioritizing technological advances that can help keep motorists safer, it's troubling to see that so many commercial carriers have been lagging. Specifically, newer passenger vehicles often now come standard with safety features such as automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, and blind spot warning. Commercial vehicles, meanwhile, are largely lacking these features.
Many of these larger trucks are equipped with other safety features, such as anti-lock brakes (which have been required since 1997) and electronic stability control (which have been required since summer 2017). A number of commercial truck carriers are also required to have installed onboard electronic logging devices, which help limit their hours in service (and ultimately prevent fatigued driving) by making sure drivers aren't skirting federal rules. But regulations for big trucks are still lagging behind in terms of the latest safety features that have been shown to make vehicles considerably safer.
Retrofitting these large vehicles with these types of technological systems could help slash the number of large truck crashes by about 28 percent - or 107,000 collisions annually - according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Unfortunately, many fleet owners and operators have been slow to climb aboard the technology train due to cost - even though, considering the devastating consequences of a large truck crash, it seems a small price to pay to make our roads safer.
In Pennsylvania, we have more than 2 million large trucks and buses registered in the state, per the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. That accounts for about 17 percent of all registered vehicles in the state. Of course, there are also many trucks registered in other states transporting goods through Pennsylvania every day. Fully-loaded tractor trailers can weigh up to 40 tons, and they require almost twice as long to stop as a typical passenger car. These hefty vehicles also have limited maneuverability, which means even more care is required, particularly in work zones.
This is especially true in this state, where a previous legal requirement, mandating semiannual safety inspections for motor carrier vehicles with a registered gross weight in excess of 17,000 pounds, is no longer required, as of February 2017. That means carriers need to take even more individual responsibility for the safety of their trucks.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, contact our law firm and find out how we can help you.