A sharp rise in deaths from heavy truck crashes, which are up almost 50 percent in the last 10 years, has federal officials more eager than ever for solutions. Many know what needs to be done and have a federal Administration willing to cooperate, but a lack of consensus prevents any real movement forward.

The Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are still considering whether new big rigs should be required to have automatic emergency braking systems and devices that limit how fast trucks can go.

Speed Limiters and Breaking Systems

A proposed rule introduced in June 2023 would require automatic emergency braking systems in trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds. NHTSA estimated that the proposed rule would prevent more than 19,000 crashes, save 155 lives, and prevent 8,814 injuries every year.

Most deaths occur when the posted speed limit is 65 mph or higher.

The American Trucking Association favors the rules change while the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed, questioning how foolproof the technology is.

A lot is riding on what happens in an industry that employs 3.5 million drivers, carries 11.5

billion tons of freight, and reported $940.8 billion in revenue in 2022. “We cannot and must not accept that roadway fatalities are somehow an inevitable part of life in America,” the Transportation Department said in a statement.

2024 Could Be a Defining Year

The Transportation Department’s National Roadway Safety Strategy, which was released in January 2022, called for speed limiters and breaking technology as well as new standards for rear underguards to prevent cars from being wedged underneath trailers.

The rule on speed limiters could be announced this month, followed by automatic emergency braking in 2024. But if the rules are delayed and a new administration takes office in January 2025, proponents of the new safety technologies could find themselves starting over. Meanwhile, a busy holiday travel season with blowing snow and ice could mean another perilous winter for both truckers and motorists alike. If you have been injured in a truck-related accident, don’t hesitate to reach out to a Chicago truck accident attorney today.