Experts Say There’s More than Trucking Companies Can Do to Make Fleets Safer

- Samuel Kane

There are few vehicles that can do as much damage when involved in a crash as a loaded tractor-trailer. These massive vehicles can weigh many times what a passenger vehicle weighs—well over 80,000 pounds when fully loaded—and require substantial skill and attention to drive safely. Despite this fact, most late-model passenger vehicles have far more advanced safety systems than does the average semi-truck or big rig. Learn more below about the ways that updating the safety systems of large trucks could save lives, and contact a seasoned Las Cruces truck accident lawyer if you’ve been hurt in a New Mexico truck accident.

Fatalities rising on US roads, including among large trucks

Each year since 2014, the total number of traffic fatalities on US roads has climbed among every major category of accident, including crashes involving tractor-trailers. In 2016, over 4,000 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Since semi-trucks are so massive, these fatalities in crashes involving trucks and passenger vehicles are nearly always among the passenger vehicle occupants; official estimates state that in about 80% of fatal accidents involving large trucks and cars, it’s the passenger vehicle occupants who are killed.

Collision-avoidance systems in commercial trucks could save lives

Despite the risks that large trucks can pose, even when driven safely, some safety experts wonder whether shipping and carrier companies are doing all they can to make their fleets as safe as possible. Collision-warning and crash-avoidance systems have come a long way in recent years, offering drivers assistance in braking in the event of an emergency, as well as help with remaining in their lane of traffic, or a warning when merging lanes while a vehicle is in their blind spot. Yet, one safety group has found that only 15% of all large commercial trucks have these features installed, despite relatively-inexpensive retrofitting options.

These safety features are often far more needed on large trucks than on passenger vehicles. For example, tractor-trailers sometimes need up to 400 feet to come to a complete stop when traveling at highway speeds. If a hazard arises in the road ahead, but the driver fails to notice it from 400 feet out, they simply may not have enough time to come to a stop. Automatic emergency braking could provide the assistance that a truck driver would need to avoid a crash. Likewise, semi-trucks and big rigs have massive blind spots, known as no-zones, that wrap all the way around the passenger side to the rear of the truck. Blind-spot warning could help truck drivers avoid running other vehicles off the road or ramming them while attempting to merge lanes. In the coming years, installation of these features may shift from being recommended to being required in order to prevent additional roadway fatalities.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a New Mexico large truck accident, find out whether you’re entitled to money damages for your injuries by contacting the experienced and dedicated Las Cruces truck crash lawyer Samuel N. Kane for a no-cost consultation at 575-526-5263.