Large commercial vehicles are involved in less than 3% of the traffic accidents in Georgia and around the country, but those collisions account for almost 15% of all road fatalities. Semi-tractor trailers cause more deaths and serious injuries when they crash because the are far heavier and more difficult to control in emergency situations than passenger vehicles, and they have huge blind spots that can make even basic maneuvers extremely challenging in heavy traffic.
The most comprehensive analysis of fatal truck accident data was conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 2007. The resulting Large Truck Crash Causation Study revealed that driving too fast for road or traffic conditions was one of the most common cause of fatal collisions involving tractor-trailers. According to the accident data, almost one in four deadly commercial vehicle crashes are caused by truck drivers who ignore speed limits or fail to slow down when visibility is impaired or roads become slick with rain.
Even experienced and careful truck drivers may be unable to avoid crashing when their vehicles develop mechanical problems that make them difficult or impossible to control. Mechanical failures are the leading cause of deadly truck accidents in the United States, and braking systems are the components that fail most often. The FMCSA report reveals that 29% of fatal commercial vehicle accidents involve trucks or buses that encountered braking problems, and these mechanical failures were almost always the primary reason for the crash. Other common causes of catastrophic truck accidents include driver fatigue, inclement weather and unfamiliar roads.
Technology could be the answer
Efforts to reduce truck accident deaths have traditionally focused on stricter regulations and more aggressive enforcement measures, but technology could provide a more enduring solution. Automatic emergency braking systems can react far more quickly to dangerous situations than even the most alert human beings, and speed limiters could be far more effective than law enforcement at preventing truck drivers from exceeding posted speed limits. These systems have been available for several years and are included as standard equipment on most new commercial vehicles sold in the United States.