For the second time in less than one month, five innocent lives were lost on Georgia’s Interstate 16 when the driver of a tractor-trailer failed to stop — or even apply the brakes — before slamming into helpless drivers trapped in standstill traffic in front of them. These tragic crashes occurred just miles apart and have eerie similarities that highlight one very stark reality: lives are being lost at an alarming rate due to the recklessness, carelessness or otherwise lack of awareness by tractor-trailer drivers in Georgia and across the nation, and we as a country are not doing enough to change that.
For years now, highway safety advocates have called on Congress, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to address the disturbing number of commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries across the country. And, while incremental progress has been made in certain areas, there are still many options readily available that would immediately and significantly make our highways safer for everyone.
Already among the top priorities of highway safety advocates, it is universally agreed upon that requiring the installation and use of forward collision avoidance and mitigation systems and speed governors on all tractor-trailers would reduce the number and severity of truck crashes on our highways and, most importantly, save lives. Here’s how these low-cost and easily implemented systems work:
Forward Collision Avoidance Systems: This technology, which works by alerting the driver and taking over the brakes and engine of the tractor-trailer when an imminent collision is anticipated, is already fully developed and comes as a standard feature on most new automobiles. It is estimated that it would cost less than $500 per vehicle to retrofit current tractor-trailers to meet this standard. On average, according to NHTSA, two to three rear-end collisions involving tractor-trailers occur somewhere in the U.S. every hour.
Speed Governors: Every tractor-trailer manufactured since 1992 comes from the factory with a speed governor installed as standard equipment, which works by setting a predetermined speed limit that the vehicle cannot exceed. Unfortunately, many truck companies and individual truckers opt not to use them, choosing instead to put profits ahead of safety by racing the clock and risking countless lives in the process. However, the companies that voluntarily require the use of speed governors in their trucks report that, in addition to being safer on the roads, their tractor-trailers also are more profitable due to saved fuel, last longer because of the reduced wear-and-tear on the trucks and have lower liability costs as a result of the reduction in the number and severity of crashes.
The numbers don’t lie. Georgia is currently among the top five states in the U.S. in truck-related fatalities, and it is estimated by the U.S. Department of Transportation that there are nearly 100,000 injuries and 4,000 deaths nationwide each year as a result of tractor-trailer crashes.
How many more lives must be lost as a result of the under-regulated tractor-trailers on American highways before our leaders get serious about holding the trucking industry to the highest standards of safety? It is the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association’s top priority to save lives, and I am confident that requiring the use of forward collision avoidance systems and speed governors on all tractor-trailers would be counted among the most significant safety improvements to our highways in American history.
Written by: Darren Penn
Darren Penn serves as president of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association. He is a partner with the law firm Harris Penn Lowry LLP in Atlanta and Savannah.
Source article from Macon.com
Insight by Atty. Jeff Powers:
What a tragedy to those families who lost their children in South Georgia on I-16. Unfortunately, the trucking company only has $1 million in insurance coverage. None of those families will be fully compensated for the horrific accident.