The last time the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration conducted a formal large-truck crash causation study was in the early 2000s. The report of that study was sent to Congress in 2006. Now, the FMCSA has plans to conduct another study. In a formal proposal made January 2020, the agency said it is gathering data on how the use of phones and on-board electronic systems has factored into truck crashes in North Carolina and across the U.S.
The need for a new study is clear in light of advances in technology: More and more truckers are distracted by in-cab navigation and fleet management systems, and many truckers let themselves be distracted by overestimating the abilities of safety features like automatic emergency braking. This has led to a rise in fatal large-truck crashes.
From 2016 to 2018, for instance, there was a 5.7% increase in fatal crashes involving large trucks. There were 4,415 such crashes in 2018. The FMCSA intends to develop a baseline of truck crash factors in the effort to come up with crash prevention strategies. These strategies could also take into account the current capabilities of automated driving systems.
The FMCSA is fielding comments. For example, it wants opinions on whether the study should be nationally representative or make use of convenience sampling.
Commercial truck crashes can arise out of various causes. Truckers may be distracted by phones or other technology, or they may drive drunk or fall asleep behind the wheel. Those who were injured at the hands of a negligent trucker may want to have a lawyer evaluate their case and determine how much they might be eligible for in damages. They may want that lawyer to speak on their behalf, too, at the negotiation table or in the courtroom.