In our last post, we began a discussion of the frustrating fact that it is not always possible to make steady progress towards the goal of ensuring that the American public remains safe while on the road. We mentioned that one factor complicating motor vehicle safety trends is the unfortunate rollback of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s revised hours of service requirement. This requirement was designed to reduce truck driver fatigue and to reduce the prevalence of fatigue-related truck accidents.
However, the rollback is only one factor complicating the goal of reducing truck accidents on an annual basis. Drivers are now arguably more distracted than ever before, given that so many Americans use portable electronic devices while driving. It is perhaps due to both the prevalence of drowsy drivers and distracted drivers that the number of fatalities resulting from large truck crashes has spiked for the fourth year in a row.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 3,964 individuals perished as a result of large truck accidents in 2013. Even though highway accident fatalities fell by more than three percent in 2013, large truck accident fatalities rose once again.
We have observed that reducing the rate of fatal truck accidents is a complex business. However, safety regulators and other interested professionals should not become overwhelmed by the prospect of making steady progress towards this goal. It may be a complex mission, but it is a necessary one. And it therefore must be embraced in spite of its frustrating complexity.
Source: Carrier Management, “Large-Truck Crash Deaths Increase for Fourth Year,” Dec. 24, 2014