Last weekend, the third multi-fatality tractor trailer vs passenger vehicle crash occurred on Georgia I-16, a small interstate that connects Atlanta to the coast. Three people died in that crash, bringing the total to 13 people killed in three crashes in two months on I-16, a staggering statistic listing I-16 among the deadliest roads in America in the last two months. And it’s not just I-16 – here in Northeast Florida, there have been at least 10 tractor trailer caused fatalities this year. It has to stop, and the time to do something is now.
The National Transportation Safety Board, the independent federal agency charged with the investigation of transportation accidents and making safety recommendations, has recommended to the federal government in the last month that tractor trailers be required to have forward-collision avoidance systems and electronic stability control systems. These systems are relatively inexpensive and can avoid or lessen the severity of front to rear crashes and prevent rollovers of tractor trailers. Forward collision avoidance systems are already on the market and readily available, however, only a handful of the safety conscious motor carriers are using them. These systems give the tractor trailer driver an audible alarm when vehicles get within a specified distance and then, if the driver does not react in time, the tractor trailer itself will slow or stop before the impact. What is most frustrating is that these systems save lives, prevent down time for the tractor trailer and driver and cost less than the optional or after-market chrome parts that make the tractor and trailer look fancier, yet the carriers are not making the safety systems a priority.
While there are many safe tractor trailer drivers and responsible motor carriers, there are many more that are driving over their hours of service limits, fatigued, with poorly maintained equipment. This must end! We are working closely with local and national associations to push for stricter safety regulations. You can help too. Please email or write to your senators and representatives and tell them they need to increase the mandatory minimum insurance limits for tractor trailer drivers from the current (but very inadequate) $750,000 to $5 million. We need to work together to ensure collision avoidance systems and In-Cab drive cam monitoring systems are mandatory for all commercial vehicles. These safety measures will save lives and make our roads much safer.