Highway regulators are currently under scrutiny for failing to implement more than 100 recommendations designed to improve truck safety. This comes at a time when deaths related to trucking accidents have steadily risen for four consecutive years, according to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Priorities need to change in 2015, including more anti-collision technology, better restrictions on driver hours, and stricter regulation of trucking companies with high accident rates, the NTSB said at a news conference on Tuesday.
The collisions that severely injured comedian Tracy Morgan in June and killed four members of a college softball team in September have highlighted the two million truckers in America who are involved in accidents. These accidents kill nearly 4,000 people each year. The NTSB seeks to raise truck safety awareness, saying it’s time for regulators to act on the recommendations — more than 100 in all — that would improve trucking safety.
“There’s a whole suite of technology that’s ready for prime time now that would reduce crashes,” Donald Karol, NTSB’s director of highway safety investigations, said during an interview.
The NTSB is calling for the use of sensors that are able to warn truck drivers when they’re close to colliding with another vehicle from behind or to alert them when a vehicle has changed lanes.
The agency made its pleas while revealing its “Most Wanted List” of transportation improvements for 2015. Aside from trucking, the NTSB also suggested more attention be given to rail tank-car safety, airline pilot compliance, distracted driving, and driver impairment due to drugs and alcohol.
“The Most Wanted List is our road map for 2015,” Christopher Hart, NTSB’s acting chairman, said during the press conference. “These are safety improvements for which the time is ripe for action.”
While the NTSB investigates transportation and pipeline accidents, it has no regulatory authority. The agency uses its annual Most Wanted List as a means of underscoring the areas in need of the most improvement.
Though transportation has become safer and more efficient in recent decades, tens of thousands of deaths each year and hundreds of thousands of injuries indicate there is still a lot of improvement to be made.