Forward Collision Avoidance Systems: This technology alerts the driver and takes over the brakes and engine of the tractor-trailer when an imminent collision is anticipated. It's already fully developed and is a standard feature on most new automobiles. Estimated 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. every hour.
Speed Governors: Every tractor-trailer manufactured since 1992 comes from the factory with a speed governor as standard equipment. It sets a pre-determined speed limit the vehicle cannot exceed. Unfortunately, many trucking companies and individual truckers opt not to use them, putting profits ahead of safety by racing the clock and risking lives. However, companies that voluntarily require the use of speed governors report that, in addition to being safer on the roads, their tractor-trailers also are more profitable due to saved fuel; they last longer because of the reduced wear and tear; and they have lower liability costs by reducing the number and severity of crashes.
Numbers don’t lie. Georgia is among the top five states in the U.S. in truck-related fatalities. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates there are nearly 100,000 injuries and 4,000 deaths nationwide each year as a result of tractor-trailer crashes.
How many more lives must be lost as a result of under-regulated tractor-trailers before our leaders get serious about holding the trucking industry to the highest standards of safety? It is the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association’s top priority to save lives. I am confident that requiring the use of forward collision avoidance systems and speed governors on all tractor-trailers would be counted among the most significant safety improvements to our highways in American history.