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NTSB Releases Study Results, Says More Safety Rules Needed for Single-Unit Trucks

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truck crashThe National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently released the results of its safety study on single-unit truck crashes. The study, which was conducted over a five-year period, between the years 2005 through 2009, examined the injury severity and crash characteristics of single-unit trucks. The study used data gathered from hospital and police reports obtained from individual states, as well as several federal databases. Researchers also used case reviews of single-unit truck crashes.

To qualify as a single-unit truck, a vehicle must have a gross vehicle weight rating of over 10,000 pounds and have a non-detachable cargo unit. All the vehicle axles must also be attached to a single frame. Single-unit trucks differ from tractor-trailers

Single-unit trucks are large trucks that have a gross vehicle weight rating over 10,000 pounds. Unlike tractor-trailers, which can pick up and drop off semi-trailers, a single-unit truck has a non-detachable cargo unit. The axles of a single-unit truck are also all attached to a single frame.

The purpose of the study was to determine how the crash risks of single-unit trucks compared to those risks associated with tractor- trailers. There are federal safety regulations currently in place that only apply to tractor-trailers and not single-unit trucks. The study thinks that should be changed.

Some of the results of the NTSB’s study included:

  • Statistical revelation of the disproportionate number of passenger vehicle occupant deaths involving single-unit trucks, particularly in multivehicle crashes;
  • Findings that, because these vehicles are often misclassified, leading to the exclusion of deadly accident involvement from state and federal databases, the dangers of these trucks have been underestimated by safety advocates;
  • The conclusion that single-unit trucks should be required to adhere to many of the same safety rules that tractor trailers are required to follow. This includes taking steps to enhance the conspicuity (i.e., visibility) of these vehicles, as well as the installation of rear underride guards; and
  • Recommendations that single-unit trucks should also be required to have side underride protection systems and technology which will compensate for the vehicle’s blind spots. These measurements would help protect occupants in passenger vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists who share the roads with these massive trucks.

The study also recommends that there be multiple data sources developed which would provide a more accurate picture of overall truck safety. Two databases currently being used to track truck safety (Trucks in Fatal Accidents and state Crash Outcome Data Evaluation Systems) are supposed to be discontinued. The study also cited issues with licensing of single-unit truck drivers, including expanding requirements of commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) for trucks with lower weight classes.

Our Virginia wrongful death attorneys have successfully represented many families whose loved ones were killed in truck accidents. We understand just how devastating this loss can be, and just how critical it is for victims to have an aggressive attorney fighting for them against insurance companies and truck carriers.