The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that as many as 500,000 semi trucks currently traveling on U.S. roadways contain brakes that could catch fire.
The NHTSA says its investigation involves mostly Kenworth and Peterbilt semis with brakes made between 2015 and 2020 by Haldex Commercial Vehicle Systems. The agency has received 11 complaints concerning seven fires, but no injuries occurred.
Truck accident fatality levels remain high
Since reaching an all-time low in 2009, deaths from crashes involving large commercial trucks have steadily risen. According to the most recent statistics available, 4,119 people died in 2019. In two-vehicle crashes involving big rigs, 97% of those killed were in passenger vehicles.
Semi trucks can weigh 20 to 30 times more than passenger cars, and loaded trucks take up to 40% farther to stop than cars on dry surfaces. Wet, slippery roads, poorly maintained brakes and driver fatigue all present increased risks to everyone on the road.
Trucking companies resist safety upgrades
Despite these hazards, many trucking companies have failed to voluntarily upgrade their fleets with advanced driver safety systems that studies show reduce the number of crashes. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), these systems include:
- Automatic emergency braking: Trucks with AEB reported 12% fewer crashes and safety advocates say the technology could eliminate 40% of rear-end collisions.
- Forward collision warning: Trucks equipped with this system had 22% fewer crashes.
Despite the potential benefits in reducing fatalities as well as lowering repair and insurance costs for trucking firms, many companies are not upgrading their trucks with these systems. At the same time, regulators have not required them to be standard equipment.
The tragic cost of trucking accidents
Crashes involving large trucks not only result in higher fatality rates but typically cause massive medical bills for those who survive. People hurt in these accidents often suffer lifelong debilitating conditions, and many cannot return to work and need continuing care or rehabilitation.
If you are injured due to the negligence of others, it’s advisable to consult an experienced personal injury attorney to hold the negligent party accountable. These accidents can be devastating and create personal and financial hardships. A knowledgeable lawyer will pursue just compensation so you can focus on your recovery.