Two people were killed and two others injured in a recent North Carolina tractor-trailer crash in Pender, just outside of Wilmington, about two hours southeast of Chapel Hill.
Our North Carolina truck accident lawyers understand that the truck involved was a hauling logs, and nearby witnesses described the sound of the collision as being similar to an explosion. The truck reportedly flipped over onto its side as a result of the impact. The car was crushed.
The truck driver and a passenger in the car with which it collided were seriously injured, while the car’s driver and a third passenger were pronounced dead at the scene.
Details of the crash are still under investigation, but the incident highlights the immense danger these large vehicles can pose when they are involved in traffic collisions. Recent federal legislation passed under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) does provide some increased protection and enhanced safety requirements for commercial trucks.
The goal is to reduce large truck accidents by targeting the prime areas where we see problems:
- Driver fatigue;
- Overweight loads;
- Driver substance abuse.
Some of those MAP-21 changes include:
- Requirements that within a year, all commercial trucks contain electronic logs of hours of operations to reduce driver fatigue and non-compliance by companies that stretch their drivers thin to maximize their profits.
- Requirements that all commercial drivers undergo annual driving record checks;
- Establishment of a national database for drivers who test positive for alcohol and/or illegal drugs;
- Expansion of U.S. Department of Transportation powers to disqualify or revoke the registration of unsafe commercial drivers and/or companies;
- Maintains the 80,000-pound weight limit for large trucks.
All of this should help, but it will not entirely eliminate the risks.
The National Highway Safety Association reports that about two-thirds of all heavy truck occupant deaths occur in rollover crashes. For the last three years, the agency has been pushing to have devices called Heavy Electronic Stability Control made standard in all large trucks.
In fact, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan found that these stabilizing units could save some 100 lives every year and prevent an estimated 4,400 injuries annually. The system actually overrides the driver if it detects the driver is traveling too quickly around a curve.
Already, these systems are required in all passenger vehicles – but still not in commercial trucks, despite the fact that large trucks represent a disproportionately large share of all rollover crashes. Tank trucks, for example, represent just 6 percent of all large trucks on the road, and yet account for more than 30 percent of all fatal commercial rollover wrecks.
Tank trucks in particular give rise to a heightened concern in this regard because they often cart around hazardous material. A few years ago in Indiana, a tractor truck towing a propane-laden tank ran off the interstate, hit a guardrail and exploded.
While the MAP-21 initiative is a good start, there are clearly more safety advances to be made.
If you have been involved in a car accident, contact Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.
2 killed, 2 injured in Pender crash, Jan. 21, 2013, By Brian Freskos, Star News
More Blog Entries:
Report: NC and SC Highway Safety Measures Need Improvement, Jan. 23, 2013, North Carolina Car Accident Lawyer Blog