Truck deaths rise, efforts to mandate truck safety tech stall

In 2017, a total of 4,102 people in California and across the U.S. died in large truck crashes. The majority, 68%, were occupants of passenger vehicles while truck occupants made up 17% of the fatalities. This number represents a 28% increase from the number of truck crash fatalities in 2009. It's an alarming trend, and numerous safety groups have been pushing for new safety tech on commercial trucks as a way to combat it.

For example, forward crash avoidance and mitigation systems are proven to help prevent rear-end collisions, many of which are caused by distracted or drowsy truckers. On at least 10 occasions since the 1990s, the National Transportation Safety Board has petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to create a regulation that would mandate these systems on all heavy trucks. Yet the NHTSA has not come up with a proposal for such a rule.

The NHTSA, for its part, is analyzing next-generation automatic emergency braking. It claims that it will be done with the field operation tests, which are part of its naturalistic driving study, in 18 to 24 months. Critics, pointing out that the benefits of AEB are already well-known, counter that the NHTSA is over-analyzing things. Whatever happens, the threat of negligent truckers will not disappear due to the growing economy and an increasing reliance on online shopping.

When motor vehicle accident cases involve a commercial truck, there can be several challenges to overcome before victims are able to achieve the settlement they deserve. Trucking companies usually have a team of lawyers who work hard to deny payment or force victims to accept low-ball offers, so victims are advised to have legal representation of their own. A lawyer might bring in investigators to gather proof against the trucker before heading to negotiations. As a last resort, the lawyer may litigate.

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