Commercial Trucks Contribute to 1 in 10 Highway FatalitiesJoel H. Schwartz, P.C.


Anyone who has ever driven on the highway has almost certainly shared the road with a tractor-trailer. If you use the interstate regularly, you know that semis are the biggest, most intimidating vehicles on the road. Passing one can make anyone anxious – and with good reason. According to a report released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), commercial trucks now contribute to one in ten highway deaths.

What is frustrating for those of us who have dedicated our lives to helping injury victims is that many of these tragedies are entirely preventable. The IIHS cites three ways to reduce the number of fatalities and catastrophic injuries associated with tractor-trailer accidents.

Truck Driver Fatigue

Federal hours of service regulations, which are created and enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), mandate that commercial drivers who operate trucks over 10,001 pounds are limited to 11 hours of consecutive driving time.

Regrettably, this doesn’t stop some carriers from pressuring their drivers to break the rules. As a result, many commercial truck operators spend far too many hours on the road, making them more likely to fall asleep behind the wheel. The IIHS claims that replacing handwritten logbooks with mandatory electronic onboard recorders would reduce false reporting and cut down on driver fatigue.

Underride Guards

Underride accidents happen when a standard-size vehicle slides under the trailer part of a tractor-trailer. Instead of rear-ending the semi, the car’s hood slips right underneath the trailer, leaving the windshield to smash into the truck’s rear bumper. These accidents are usually devastating, as the occupants in the car’s front seats are thrown against the windshield and the back of the trailer.

Although some tractor-trailers are equipped with underride guards, the IIHS states that many underride guards – even those that meet federal safety standards – fail during collisions, including low-speed crashes. As a result, the IIHS has petitioned the FMCSA to require stronger underride guards.

Commercial Truck Braking Capability

Tractor-trailers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Their enormous weight and size makes them much slower to stop than a typical passenger vehicle. According to the IIHS, electronic stability control systems could reduce semi-truck rollovers and result in faster, safer braking in commercial trucks.

Boston and Framingham Personal Injury Lawyers

Tractor-trailer accidents are among the most catastrophic on the road. If you have been hurt in a commercial truck accident, or you have lost a loved one in this type of collision, it’s important to contact an attorney right away. The personal injury attorneys at Joel H. Schwartz, P.C. offer experienced, compassionate legal counsel to individuals and families throughout Massachusetts. Call us today at (617) 742-1170 to speak to a personal injury attorney about your case.

This website has been prepared by Joel H. Schwartz, P.C. for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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