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NHTSA urged to mandate crash-avoidance systems

Many of the passenger vehicles on sale in Pennsylvania and around the country are equipped with crash-avoidance systems that are designed to prevent rear-end collisions, but few semi-tractor trailers have this technology. Road safety advocates say that repeated calls from the National Transportation Safety Board to mandate such systems have been largely ignored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration despite a worrying rise in truck accident fatalities. According to NHTSA data, the number of road users killed in accidents involving tractor-trailers has increased by 28 percent in just two decades.

Groups including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association that lobby on behalf of the trucking industry have also opposed regulations that would require logistics companies to install forward crash-avoidance systems. They say that the adoption of safety systems should be encouraged but not required. NHTSA points out that it can only recommend regulatory changes and has no power to implement new rules, and the agency says that field testing of the latest systems is expected to be completed within two years.

Trucking companies that have installed the technology say it can reduce rear-end truck collisions by more than 70 percent. When this kind of truck accident does occur, the technology is generally able to significantly reduce both the severity of the injuries suffered and the amount of property damage. NHTSA has been made aware of these real-world results and does not dispute them.

Personal injury attorneys may generally file truck accident lawsuits against negligent truck owners or drivers, but this type of litigation might also be brought against government bodies in some situations. While legal action is not likely to be mounted against federal agencies like NHTSA for not implementing safety regulations, it might be taken against local authorities that failed to repair dangerous road conditions or replace missing street signs.

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