Wrongful deaths from trucking accidents would decline significantly and truck accident injuries would be cut by more than 22,000 hospitalizations a year if tractor-trailer rigs were equipped with advanced safety technologies, according to a new semi-truck safety report by AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Video-based onboard safety monitoring systems already on the market would potentially spare 17,773 people a year from being injured by 18-wheelers. AAA’s benefit-cost analysis, which no-doubt examined the cost of truck accident lawsuits and semi-truck crash litigation, said the benefits would outweigh the tens of millions of dollars in costs.
Truck accident lawyers Fred Pritzer and Eric Hageman are lending their public support to the findings. They have called attention to the report as part of a plea for action by the trucking industry and U.S. transportation officials.
“You can’t put a dollar value on the absolute misery caused by at-fault truck drivers and the companies that outfit them, but freight haulers should heed this report if only for business purposes. The sheer common sense of adapting technology for safety would save so many lives and keep so many families out of harm’s way.’’
According to the AAA safety foundation report, large trucks with gross vehicle weights of more than 10,000 pounds drove about 280 billion miles on U.S. roads in 2015 and were involved in more than 400,000 crashes. Those truck crashes killed 4,067 people and caused injuries to 116,000 others. By and large it’s not the truck drivers who die, it’s the motorists in passenger cars, pickup trucks, motorcycles and SUVs who share the road with them.
“Advances in vehicle safety technology provide the opportunity to prevent substantial numbers of these crashes, injuries, and deaths,’’ the AAA report said.
The report focuses on four advanced safety technologies highlighted here in detail:
- Lane departure warning systems could potentially prevent as many as 6,372 crashes, 1,342 injuries and 115 deaths annually.
- Video-based onboard safety monitoring systems could potentially prevent as many as 63,000 crashes, 17,733 injuries and 293 deaths per year.
- Automatic emergency braking system could potentially prevent as many as 5,294 crashes, 2,753 injuries and 55 deaths annually.
- Air disc brakes could potentially prevent as many as 2,411 crashes, 1,447 injuries and 37 deaths per year.
AAA’s estimates were based on the best available studies, recommendations of an expert advisory panel (federal government sources and trucking industry officials included) and data on rates of large truck crashes from 2010 through 2015.
The safety foundation applied many of the same economic values for semi truck accident injury and truck accident wrongful death cases that accident lawyers at Pritzker Hageman, P.A., put forward in courtrooms across the United States. The attorneys work on a contingency fee basis on behalf of clients they represent in semi-truck lawsuits. That means you owe them nothing until they win your case. Fred and Eric investigate each accident independently from law enforcement and public safety agencies. Besides providing accident reconstruction analysis and at-fault fact finding, the two attorneys scrutinize the immediate and future costs experienced by the truck accident victims whom they represent.
In case by case over the past decade, Fred and Eric have won tens of millions of dollars for their clients, even when crash reports filed by police brush over glaring faults and infractions by truck drivers.
The economic values that Fred and Eric put forward in litigation fully account for costs associated with medical care, emergency medical services, property damage, lost productivity, detriments to future earning capacity, estimated future medical expenses and monetized values for pain, suffering, emotional cost and the loss of quality of life.
AAA said it looked at all those costs when calculating the benefit-cost ratio for the trucking industry to invest universally in higher-tech safety systems. The safety foundation said its methods of estimating the costs and benefits are widely accepted in the research community.
“It’s not about money, it’s about safety and humane response,’’ Pritzker said. “This AAA report provides vivid proof to trucking companies and regulatory agencies that it’s crucial to invest in greater safety technology.’’Fred Pritzker