Underride crashes, where a motor vehicle collides with a large truck and slides under it, are not uncommon in Ohio. They are some of the most severe of all large truck accidents, though, usually resulting in head and neck injuries. In many cases, occupants are decapitated. Vehicle safety features are normally rendered useless in such crashes and so cannot help. At least 300 people die in these crashes every year.
Commercial vehicle automatic emergency braking systems could prevent many big rig accidents in Ohio and around the country each year, but a regulation that would mandate their installation has been bogged down in Congress since 2006. Lawmakers have also failed to require trucking companies to switch on speed limiting devices that have been fitted to virtually all large trucks sold in America for decades.
In fatal collisions between motor vehicles and large trucks, 97 percent of the fatalities are occupants of the former. The following are just some of the most common truck accident injuries that Ohio residents might suffer if they happen to be motor vehicle occupants involved in a truck crash.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the percentage of fatal crashes in Ohio and across the U.S. that involved at least one large truck rose each year from 2015 to 2017, which was the latest year for which complete data was available). Large truck occupant fatalities also rose each year during that period.
Truck drivers in Ohio should know that some of the most desired transportation safety changes relate directly to the commercial trucking industry. Six out of the 10 items on the National Transportation Safety Board's 2019-2020 Most Wanted List are proposed improvements to this industry. Below is an outline of those six recommendations.
Federal data shows an increase in large truck crash deaths from 2009 to 2017. This surge comes despite the fact that commercial truckers traveled fewer and fewer miles as the eight-year period progressed. Road Safe America, a highway safety non-profit, is now encouraging using automatic emergency braking systems and speed limiters on commercial trucks in Ohio and across the U.S.
There are several obvious and not-so-obvious differences between truck crashes and car accidents that Ohio residents should keep in mind. The severity of vehicle damage and injuries is the first. The weight of commercial trucks causes a greater impact, leaving most passenger vehicles undrivable. Occupants of the latter may be left with head trauma and spine injuries and may require rehabilitative care and short- or long-term disability leave.
Ohio drivers may be concerned to learn that serious crashes involving dump trucks and ready-mix concrete delivery trucks are on the rise. Meanwhile, a spike in fleet and vehicle insurance premiums has failed to reverse the trend.
About 70 percent of the goods purchased in Ohio and around the country each year are transported by more than 15 million large commercial vehicles. This is a worrying statistic for road safety advocates because truck accidents have risen by 20 percent in just the last 10 years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration analyzed traffic accident data to understand better what was responsible for this worrying increase, and they discovered that most semi-tractor trailer accidents were caused by truck drivers.
Many people in Ohio fear motor vehicle accidents involving trucks, and they have good reason. Truck crashes are far more likely to be fatal to the occupants of smaller passenger cars. Safety advocates are seeking to reduce the number of fatalities caused by these crashes by urging passage of legislation to tighten regulations for trucks and require additional safety gear to be installed. The Stop Underrides Act of 2017 focuses on the risk of underride crashes when cars or other small vehicles slide underneath a large commercial truck. These crashes are often fatal and can lead to severe head and neck injuries or even decapitations.