Nearly 500 road deaths in West Virginia and around the country could be prevented each year if all tractor-trailers were equipped with the latest safety systems, according to a recently published study. Researchers from the AAA Foundation for traffic safety came to this conclusion after studying 2015 truck accident figures and determining how many of these crashes would have been prevented if the commercial vehicles involved had been fitted with air disc brakes, automatic emergency braking systems, lane departure warnings and video-based monitoring technology. In 2015, about 400,000 truck accidents claimed more than 4,000 lives and caused approximately 116,000 injuries.
The greatest road safety gains could be achieved by mandating the use of video-based safety systems. According to the AAA report, this technology would have prevented 63,000 crashes in 2015 and saved 293 lives. While air disc brakes are prevalent in the logistics sector, 2,411 accidents and 37 fatalities could have been avoided in 2015 if they had been fitted to every truck.
Some of the most catastrophic tractor-trailer accidents are caused by truck driver fatigue or distraction. Automatic emergency braking technology and lane departure warning systems are designed to step in when drivers fail to react to emergency situations. These devices would have prevented 11,666 truck crashes and 170 deaths in 2015 if they had been fitted to every commercial vehicle.
Even the most advanced tractor-trailer safety systems may fail to prevent accidents if they are not properly maintained. Commercial vehicle operators have a legal duty to do all that they reasonably can to protect others from harm. Personal injury attorneys could pursue civil remedies on behalf of those who have been injured in accidents caused by defective parts, inadequate repairs, untrained or unqualified mechanics or lax supervision.