Last month, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) gave seven updated recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding tractor trailer safety.
The recommendations were in these areas:
- Blind spots: NTSB reported that blind spots occur on the front, sides and rear of a tractor trailer, but noted that the spot on the right side of the trailer is of the most concern. The reason is that it obstructs a large portion of the field of view of the driver, and is involved in more crashes involving cars, pedestrians and cyclists. The NTSB noted several countermeasures to mitigate such blind spots: better mirror systems, more advanced technologies to detect blind spots, and technologies to alert truck drivers about vehicles in a blind spot.
- Side Underride Protection Systems: NTSB reported that side crashes made up 15% of fatal two vehicle wrecks between trucks and cars during 2011. Side underride crashes are a major safety issue because they defeat a car’s designed crumple zone, and also prevent deployment of airbags. Their recommendation was to require new trailers to be equipped with a side underride protection system.
- Rear Underride Protection Systems: NTSB stated that there were 15,328 crashes where cars smashed into the rear of a trailer from 2005-9. These sorts of wrecks made up 19% of fatal two car accidents in 2011. A rear underride crash also may defeat the safety features of passenger cars. NTSB stated that the 1998 rule that strengthened rear underride guards had had limited effect. NTSB recommended that the NHTSA revise the requirements for rear underride protection systems.