NTSB Recommends Large Truck Safety Changes, Investigates Train Collisions

Truck and train accident lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report of two recent major activities by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The agency just recently updated its investigation information into the two train derailments in New England, as well as recommended some changes to enhance the safety of large trucks on our roadways.

As we recently outlined, a CSX Transportation train collided with a garbage truck in Rosedale, Maryland on May 28, 2013. The collision led to a derailment and consequent explosion in the Baltimore suburb, which witnesses said they could feel from blocks away, initially believing it was an earthquake. The driver of the truck was critically injured and sent to the hospital, though fortunately he is recovering.

NTSB investigators were immediately sent to the scene, where they still remain, interviewing witnesses, gathering evidence and analyzing records regarding all aspects of the incident. Investigators have plans to interview the truck driver as soon as he is able to communicate effectively, and have already completed inspections into the truck itself, removing several mechanical components for additional testing and analysis.

Fortunately, the crash site was cleared almost immediately and trains are now able to run normally. NTSB successfully scanned the scene with computerize recreation and precise measurements to re-crate the collision and derailment. The agency continues to request any videos of the incident as well as witness statements, and anyone with information can contact the agency at witness@ntsb.gov.

The agency also recently released new recommended safety guidelines for single-unit trucks, which refers to trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds, with non-detachable cargo units and with all axles attached to a single frame. These types of trucks differ from tractor trailers, which pick up and drop of semi-trailers.

According to the agency’s Press Release, about 1,800 people died between 2005 and 2009 in roadway crashes involving single-unit trucks, and thousands of others were injured. In response to these fatalities, the NTSB conducted a study researching the severity of injuries and crash characteristics for these truck accidents.

The study found that single-truck units were involved in a disproportionately high number of vehicle deaths in multivehicle crashes, and that they had a considerable impact on society as measured by fatalities, injuries, hospitalizations, and ER visits. The agency also found that these trucks should be subject to the same safety regulations as tractor-trailers (they currently are not), including requiring rear underride guards and technology to improve blind spots.

Additionally, the agency notes that the adverse effects of these crashes have been underestimated due to the frequent truck misclassifications, leading to significant underreporting in federal and state databases.

The NTSB released their safety recommendations to several different agencies, which are expected to promptly address the modifications. Among these modifications include enhanced ability for truck drivers to see cyclists and pedestrians, prevent other vehicles from underriding the rear and side, and improving the visibility of trucks on dark and poorly lit roads. It is also recommending that federal and state data on large truck crashes be improved, and will evaluate the potential benefits of expanding requirements for commercial driver’s licenses to lower truck weight classes.

Truck and train crash lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm will continue to report on all relevant NTSB updates, press releases, and studies. If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a train or large truck crash due to the negligence of another, you have important legal rights. You and your family may be entitled to significant compensation for past and future medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.