April 3, 2014
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issues several recommendations on Thursday, aimed at improving the overall safety of tractor trailers.
The recommendations come from a 2013 NTSB safety study on single-unit trucks and other research, which identified issues that apply to tractor trailers as well.
"Millions of large trucks travel our roadways every day, transporting goods and keeping the American economy moving," said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. "But research shows that eliminating blind spots and underride events would reduce fatalities and injuries involving other road users."
Like large single-unit trucks, tractor trailers may have blind spots that can reduce the ability of their drivers to see other people on the road. Researchers found that limited field of view can increase the risk of death or injury among passenger vehicle occupants, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists when drivers of tractor trailers change lanes, make turns, go straight, or back up.
Collisions with the sides of tractor trailers resulted in about 500 deaths each year and that many of these deaths involved side underride.
Researchers also found that current trailer rear underride guard standards are outdated. They’re recommending the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to require that both newly manufactured truck tractors and trailers be equipped with side underride protection systems, and that revisions be made to improve trailer rear underride guard standards.
The NTSB is also recommending that NHTSA add information on trailer model year and trailer vehicle identification numbers to its national database of fatal crashes and encourage states to add trailer information to their crash databases.