When you drive on any highway in Massachusetts, you're likely to come across a big rig. It's not a pleasant thought, but imagine if the truck cut you off while changing lanes or rammed into the back of your car. The consequences could be tragic.
The statistics reveal a grim picture. In 2016, 3,986 people died in large truck crashes throughout the United States, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). That number was 27 percent higher than the number of fatalities in 2009.
The statistics hit close to home on June 12 of this year when a woman from Ludlow, Massachusetts, was seriously injured in a crash involving a tractor-trailer on the Mass Pike. According to a MassLive report, the woman's car went under the back end of the truck's trailer.
The cause of the accident was under investigation, but she was transported to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield with serious injuries.
Serious truck accidents raise questions about highway safety
Automakers have been improving the safety of motor vehicles over the past several years. According to a Consumer Reports article titled Reducing the Safety Risks of Big Rigs, research reveals that forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking systems, along with other safety features, have reduced the number of accidents.
But these important safety features are generally not equipped in big rigs. Many of the 18-wheelers you might see on the Mass Pike, I-91 or other highways are more than 10 years old. They were built before some of the modern safety features we see on new cars.
The Consumer Reports article states that only 15 percent of the large commercial truck fleets were equipped with forward-collision warning systems in 2015.
If the big trucks were built with the new technology, lives would be saved, according to the IIHS. The organization reports that 107,000 crashes could be prevented each year if safety features were integrated.
Important safety features that should be on big rigs include:
- Blind-spot warning
- Lane-departure warning
- Stability control
- Forward-collision warning
Considering that big rigs can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, it's more important to equip trucks with the technology than cars, according to Consumer Reports' director of auto testing.
As experienced attorneys who have represented victims of serious truck accidents, we agree with Consumer Reports. The companies that build big rigs as well as the operators should do a better job protecting the public. They should make sure that new trucks are sold with the new safety features and that older models are retrofitted.
The trucking industry, however, has pushed back against efforts to require advanced safety systems. Consumer Reports quotes an American Trucking Association representative who stated that "fleets should be able to choose for themselves the technology that works best for their particular operations."
Unfortunately, some trucking companies will choose the least expensive option - having no modern accident prevention features - and that can have tragic consequences.
If you or a loved one was in an accident involving a big rig, you will need an experienced attorney in your corner. Tell them you mean business. Contact the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone.