Preventing Truck Accidents In El Paso With Tougher Regulations

Semi Truck Travelling On Interstate Highway

When two sisters died in an accident with a tractor trailer, the parents of the girls formed a safety advocacy organization called AnnaLeaha and Mary for Truck Safety. The organization was founded because the deadly truck accident with the girls could have been prevented. The parents believe the truck driver had been on the road for too long, and that underride guards could have saved the lives of their kids. Underride guards stop vehicles from sliding underneath trucks when an accident happens. The car the girls were in went under the truck when the tractor-trailer hit their vehicle.

Underride accidents are disproportionately deadly. Rules to impose stricter standards for underride guards could make a big impact in reducing fatal truck accidents. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has been urging stricter rules on underride protection equipment for more than a decade. However, it was not until December of 2015- well after the death of the two sisters- that action was taken. Finally, in December of 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration put forth a Notice of Proposed Rule Making. There is still a long process until the new rule becomes law, if it ever does.

Regulators are Not Doing Enough to Prevent Truck Accidents

AnnaLeaha and Mary for Truck Safety is one of many advocacy groups which believes federal regulators are not doing enough to prevent truck accidents or to prevent other types of collisions from occurring. Consumer Affairs indicated that safety advocates have long been lamenting the lack of progress by National Transportation Safety Administration and other federal regulators. Advocates complain that NHTSA has just two percent of the budget from the Department of Transportation. Further, while DOT has been “celebrating” and congratulating itself for its safety efforts, an estimated two million Americans have died in car accidents since DOT took over on overseeing federal highway safety efforts.

Safety advocate believe federal regulators should put forth a comprehensive Vision Zero plan with the goal of bringing down the death rate in motor vehicle accidents to zero. Individual cities have begun putting forth these Vision Zero plans, imposing stricter laws to change the behavior of drivers and to make vehicles safer. If a federal plan was put forth, this would require much more aggressive action on the part of regulators than what is being done now. Trucks and truck drivers are in a disproportionate number of deadly accidents, so many of the regulations would likely be focused on improving truck safety.

It has become more important than ever for steps to be taken to prevent truck accidents and other crashes, as there was nearly a 10 percent increase in overall traffic fatalities in the first nine months of 2015 compared with the first nine months of 2014. Stricter regulations could help to bring the death rate back down.

Michael J. Gopin

Michael J. Gopin has practiced law in El Paso since 1987. Even after more than 30 years, he still remembers his first jury case. It was two weeks after receiving his license, when he represented a person whose life had been forever changed after being blinded in a work-related incident...


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