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NHTSA ignores calls to mandate truck safety systems

Accidents involving semi-tractor trailers claimed more than 4,000 lives around the country in 2017, and many of them occurred in Texas. The vast majority of the road users killed were either passenger vehicle occupants or pedestrians. Truck accident deaths have risen by 28% since 2009, but the rising death toll has not been enough to prompt federal regulators to implement rules that road safety experts say would save hundreds of lives each year.

Rear-end collisions involving large commercial vehicles are especially deadly as the truck drivers responsible are often distracted, fatigued, or impaired and traveling at highway speeds when they crash. Automatic emergency braking systems that are capable of preventing this type of truck accident have been available for many years, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has ignored at least 10 calls from the National Transportation Safety Board to make them mandatory safety equipment in big rigs.

Advocacy groups like Road Safe America say that government regulators would react quickly if the number of people killed by commercial vehicles died in airplane crashes. They point out that the monthly tractor-trailer death toll is the equivalent of two airliner crashes. NHTSA has not mandated automatic emergency braking systems in passenger vehicles either, but carmakers have vowed that the technology will be standard on virtually all cars sold in the United States by 2022.

Rear-end collisions involving tractor-trailers are often caused by impairment, distraction or fatigue. When their clients have been injured in such a crash, experienced personal injury attorneys may study accident reports, cellphone records and federal hours of service logs to find out if the truck driver responsible was intoxicated, using a mobile device or in violation of safety regulations at the time of the accident. When the preponderance of the evidence suggests that negligence of some sort played a role, attorneys could seek damages to compensate their clients for their medical costs, property damage and lost income.

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