Tragedy in Chattanooga Illustrates Need for New Safety Systems for Tractor Trailers

On June 25, 2015, a horrible crash on I-75 involving a tractor trailer killed six people, including two children.  The tractor trailer plowed into nine vehicles that were stopped due to road construction.  A more complete account of the tragic wreck, including the names of the victims, can be found in the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

It is almost universally agreed upon by highway safety advocates that requiring installation and use of forward collision avoidance and mitigation systems and speed governors on all tractor-trailers would reduce the number and severity of truck crashes on our highways and save lives.  Here’s how:

Forward Collision Avoidance Systems: This technology, which works by alerting the driver and taking over the brakes and engine of the tractor-trailer when an imminent collision is anticipated, is already fully developed and comes as a standard feature on many new automobiles. It is estimated that it would cost less than $500 per vehicle to retrofit current tractor-trailers to meet this standard. On average, according to NHTSA, two to three rear-end collisions involving tractor-trailers occur somewhere in the U.S. about every hour.

Speed Governors: Every tractor-trailer manufactured since 1992 comes from the factory with a speed governor installed as standard equipment, which works by setting a predetermined speed limit that the vehicle cannot exceed. Unfortunately, many truck companies and individual truckers opt not to use them. However, the companies that require the use of speed governors in their trucks report that, in addition to being safer on the roads, their tractor-trailers also are more profitable due to fuel savings, last longer because of the reduced wear-and-tear, and have lower liability costs as a result of the reduction in the number and severity of crashes.

It is estimated by the U.S. Department of Transportation that there are nearly 100,000 injuries and 4,000 deaths nationwide each year as a result of tractor-trailer crashes.  It is time to do something and reduce the carnage on our roadways.


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