The dangers of crashes involving tractor-trailers are well known. The massive size discrepancy between tractor-trailers and ordinary vehicles causes devastating damage in almost any collision. As a result, tractor-trailers are subject to a number of federal safety regulations. However, a 2013 study by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that single-unit trucks, which are often not covered by these same regulations, may be similarly dangerous to American drivers (NTSB Recommends Changes To Enhance the Safety of Single-Unit Trucks).
Single-unit trucks are defined as those with a gross vehicle weight rating of over 10,000 pounds. Unlike tractor-trailers, which can drop off and pick up semi-trailers, single-unit trucks have non-detachable cargo units with all axles attached to a single frame. There are more than 8 million single-unit trucks in the United States, traveling over 100 billion miles a year. Despite accounting for only 3 percent of registered motor vehicles and 4 percent of miles traveled, single-unit trucks are responsible for 9 percent of fatalities in multivehicle crashes.
“Crashes involving single-unit trucks resulted in about 1,800 deaths each year during 2005-2009 and also caused thousands of injuries,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah A. P. Hersman. “These trucks are ubiquitous in our communities, yet they are exempted from many safety rules. We must do better for our citizens.”
The NTSB made the following findings based on the study:
- A disproportionate number of deaths in multivehicle crashes involve single-unit trucks.
- Single-unit truck accidents negatively impact society through fatalities, injuries, hospitalizations, and emergency department visits.
- Certain tractor-trailer safety rules should apply to single-unit trucks, including rear underride guards and treatments to increase visibility.
- Additional protections are needed for single-unit trucks, including side underride guards and blind spot technology.
- Single-unit trucks are often misclassified, resulting in an underestimation of their adverse effects.
- Multiple data sources, including some that are scheduled to be discontinued, are needed to accurately assess single-unit truck safety.
Despite the NTSB’s recommendations, which were issued more than four years ago, nothing has been done to enhance single-unit truck safety and protect American drivers and passengers. If you have been injured in a commercial truck accident involving a tractor-trailer or single-unit truck, contact Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman for a free consultation. We will only receive a fee in the event of a successful resolution of your case.