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As truck crash deaths rise, NHTSA criticized for failure to act

Truck drivers in Pennsylvania should know that large truck crashes are on the rise. In 2017, a total of 4,102 people died in such accidents; 68 percent of those were occupants of cars, and 14 percent were pedestrians, motorcyclists or bicyclists. In all, the number of fatalities has risen 28 percent since 2009. Now, many truck safety advocacy groups are criticizing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for failure to do anything about this trend.

On at least 10 different occasions since the 1990s, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that the NHTSA mandate forward collision avoidance as well as mitigation systems on all large trucks. The NTSB published a critique of the NHTSA's failure to act back in 2016, asserting that these systems can easily reduce the number of rear-end accidents (which are among the most serious of all crashes).

Some also say that Congress should do something to ensure that truck safety mechanisms keep up with technological advancement in other industries. Many new cars, for example, already come with automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning systems.

The NHTSA, for its part, states that it has been studying next-generation automatic emergency braking technology. Field operation testing may be complete in 18 to 24 months. Critics say that the organization should instead be studying those devices that are currently available and proven to save lives.

Large truck accidents can leave victims dealing with catastrophic injuries. Someone who believes they have good grounds for a personal injury case may want to see a lawyer about filing a claim against the trucker's employer. The trucker might have been distracted, drowsy or impaired by alcohol or drugs. A lawyer could hire investigators to find the necessary proof of negligence before heading to negotiations. If negotiations fail, a victim may consider litigation.

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