NTSB Issues Recommendations for Making Single-Unit Trucks Safer: A Report from Your Los Angeles Wrongful Death AttorneyJuly 3, 2013
Single-unit trucks are ubiquitous in our neighborhoods. Single-unit trucks are large trucks that have a gross vehicle weight rating over 10,000 pounds with non-detachable cargo units and axles attached to a single frame. They are different from tractor-trailers, which are able to drop off and pick up semi-trailers. Based on the results of a five-year study recently conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board, these vehicles play a huge role in serious accidents and fatalities.
NTSB reports that single-unit trucks are involved in a “disproportionate number of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in multi-vehicle crashes.” As a result, these vehicles have a considerable impact on society, as measured by fatalities, injuries, hospitalizations, and emergency department visits. Although single-unit trucks comprise three percent of registered motor vehicles and four percent of miles traveled, they are involved in nine percent of fatalities among passenger vehicle occupants in multi-vehicle crashes. Crashes involving single-unit trucks result in about 1,800 deaths each year.
And, those numbers might be underreported. The study also shows that federal and state databases frequently misclassify single-unit trucks and thus undercount the total number of fatalities resulting from single-unit truck crashes by approximately 20 percent.
There are many reasons why these trucks seem to be involved in more serious accidents. Drivers of single-unit trucks in fatal crashes were three times more likely to have invalid licenses than the drivers of tractor-trailers involved in fatal crashes, according to the study’s findings. Non-fatal injuries are also a point of concern, as twice as many pedestrians and cyclists received non-fatal injuries in single-unit truck crashes than in tractor-trailer crashes. Crashes involving single-unit trucks and passenger vehicles pose a hazard to passenger vehicle occupants due to differences in weight, bumper height, and vehicle stiffness.
The NTSB has recommended changes to enhance the safety of single-unit trucks based on the result of a five-year study. Onboard systems and equipment that compensate for blind spots and allow drivers of single-unit trucks to detect vulnerable road users could prevent fatalities and injuries that occur in crashes involving single-unit trucks.
In addition, about half of all collisions resulting in injury between passenger vehicles and the side of single-unit trucks involve underride – when a vehicle hits a truck in the rear and slides underneath. More than 350 people a year are killed in underride accidents. NTSB says the fatalities and serious injuries that are caused by rear underrides could be mitigated by well-designed rear underride protection systems. Collisions with the sides and fronts of large trucks could be prevented or mitigated by lane departure systems, adaptive cruise control, and collision warning systems installed on large trucks.
If you have been involved in a vehicle accident because of the negligence of another, you may have a valid personal injury claim under California law. Contact your Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer at the Rudman Law Firm today for a free consultation regarding any claim that you may have involving a fatal accident with a single-unit truck or semi-truck.