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Agency wants tighter safety measures on trucking industry

A federal agency is calling for more and tighter safety measures on the trucking industry that could impact truck drivers in New Jersey and around the country. Improved truck safety is on the National Transportation Safety Board's 'most wanted" list of transportation issues that need improving in 2015. The federal agency investigates transportation accidents, but it has no regulatory authority to order safety improvements.

Almost 4,000 people across the United States die annually in accidents involving large trucks. This figure includes pedestrians, drivers and passengers in other vehicles and truck drivers themselves. Since truck driver fatigue is a significant cause of these types of accidents, the safety agency wants trucking companies to manage driver fatigue on the road better and also to test drivers for health conditions that could lead to drowsiness behind the wheel.

The technology to prevent crashes is available, the agency has said. This includes the use of sensors that can tell a driver if they are about to rear-end a vehicle or when a nearby vehicle changes lanes. The NTSB also says regulatory agencies should impose tighter controls on trucking companies' maintenance programs, since about 20 percent of safety inspections on trucks turn up violations.

Occupants of passenger vehicles involved in truck accidents may suffer more serious injuries than if they were injured in a car accident, as because of the size and weight of large trucks the impact from being hit is much greater. People who suffer injuries in truck accidents may be eligible for compensation if an investigation finds the accident was caused by a truck driver's negligence such as being distracted or driving too fast for the road and weather conditions at the time of the accident.

Source: Bloomberg News, "Trucking Safety Should Be a Higher U.S. Priority, NTSB Says", Alan Levin, Jan. 13, 2015

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