NTSB renews call for regulators to act to beef up trucking safety

There's an old quote that goes, "Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it." The source of the line has never really been nailed down, and it doesn't really matter anyway. The reason we bring it up is that it seems that we could replace the word "weather" with the words "truck safety" and come up with an equally apt statement.

We have written before about how the National Transportation Safety Board has made recommendations that regulators could adopt to improve the safety of tractor-trailer trucks on the roads of the nation, including in Alabama.

That article highlighted four particular things that the NTSB thought were important steps to take. They included improving the protection structures on big rigs that help reduce accidents that result in deadly injuries when a car hits the back end of a truck and the back of the trailer takes out the smaller vehicle's roof. Another was updating the forms police use to record accidents to include fields to allow the identification of trailer types that are involved in accidents.

The NTSB doesn't have authority to do anything other than recommend changes. Still, it does its best to keep beating the drum. The latest instance occurred this week in Washington. The acting head of the board held a news conference at which he observed that the more than 100 NTSB recommendations presented to regulators for action have not gone anywhere. He says that's despite the fact that fatalities attributed to truck accidents have increased for four straight years.

In the face of that inaction, NTSB officials said it's time for regulators to start prioritizing. And at the top of the list they put the following:

  • Requiring more anti-collision technology on trucks, such as sensors that warn truckers to other vehicles around them
  • Reducing the number of hours drivers are allowed to be on the road without rest
  • Beefing up oversight on trucking companies with the worst accident records

The agency's "Most Wanted List" also calls for more attention being paid to improving railroad tank-car safety, ensuring that airline pilots comply with safety rules, and reducing distracted and alcohol or drug impaired driving.

Might something happen? What do you think?

Source: Bloomberg, "Trucking Safety Should Be a Higher U.S. Priority, NTSB Says," Alan Levin, Jan. 13, 2015

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