The Rising Danger of Semi-Truck Fatalities in Kansas and Missouri: A Call to Action

The latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveals a concerning increase in fatalities involving large trucks on Kansas and Missouri roads. This alarming trend underscores the urgent need for policy changes and heightened public awareness.

The Severity of Truck Accidents

Truck accidents, especially those involving commercial vehicles, stand apart due to their potential for severe and life-altering consequences. The massive size and weight of semi-trucks compared to passenger vehicles often result in catastrophic outcomes. Victims typically endure severe injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord damage, which can lead to long-term or permanent disabilities. The emotional and financial toll on victims and their families is overwhelming, compounded by substantial medical expenses, lost income, and the need for significant life adjustments.

At Kendall Law Group, we are committed to raising awareness and providing support if the unthinkable happens.

Alarming Statistics

According to the NHTSA, fatalities in Missouri due to heavy truck crashes surged by 58.7% between 2012 and 2022, resulting in 1,270 lives being lost. In Kansas, fatalities increased by 28.1%, totaling 822 deaths. Nationwide, the statistics are equally troubling, with a 50.5% increase in annual fatalities from 2012 to 2022, resulting in 52,252 deaths.

Legislative Proposals Threatening Safety

Despite these grim statistics, legislative efforts to allow even larger and heavier trucks on the roads are ongoing. Three proposals currently under debate in Congress include:

H.R. 3372: To Amend Title 23, United States Code

Introduced in the 118th Congress (2023-2024), H.R. 3372 aims to amend Title 23 of the United States Code, which governs highways. This bill proposes a 10-year pilot project allowing trucks weighing 91,000 pounds, significantly heavier than the current limit. While the bill aims to establish a safety data collection program for certain 6-axle vehicles, there is concern about how effectively this data will be used to implement safety measures. Poorly managed or underfunded data collection may not lead to immediate or effective regulatory changes, leaving existing safety risks unaddressed.

H.R. 2948: Carrying Automobiles Responsibly and Safely (CARS) Act

Also introduced in the 118th Congress, the CARS Act seeks to amend Title 23 of the United States Code to allow certain specialized hauling vehicles, specifically single-steered automobile transporters, to operate on the Interstate Highway System. This bill proposes to permanently permit trucks hauling automobiles to operate at 88,000 pounds, exceeding the current weight limit by 10%.

H.R. 7496: Modernizing Operations for Vehicles in Emergencies (MOVE) Act

The MOVE Act aims to improve emergency response capabilities by allowing certain increases in truck weight limits during emergencies. The bill permits state governors to unilaterally raise interstate weight limits for trucks in emergencies to facilitate quicker and more efficient transport of necessary goods and materials.

Risks Posed to Passenger Vehicles

Organizations such as the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety strongly oppose these legislative proposals, citing significant risks to passenger vehicle drivers and occupants:

  • Increased Accident Risk: Heavier trucks are harder to stop and maneuver, leading to an increased likelihood of accidents, especially in emergencies.
  • Infrastructure Damage: Allowing heavier trucks can cause considerable damage to road infrastructure, such as bridges and highways, creating hazardous driving conditions for all vehicles.
  • Reduced Vehicle Safety: Heavier trucks have longer stopping distances and larger blind spots, posing a direct threat to smaller passenger vehicles. These trucks are more difficult to control and are more likely to be involved in serious accidents.

The connection between truck weight and crash rates is well-documented. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s 2016 Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study concluded that heavier trucks have significantly higher crash rates and more frequent safety violations. For instance, heavier trucks are 47% to 400% more likely to be involved in crashes compared to standard 80,000-pound trucks. These vehicles also exhibit an 18% higher brake violation rate, further endangering public safety.

Public Safety Advocates Respond

In response to these troubling trends and legislative threats, public safety leaders from across the country are mobilizing. In June, representatives will head to Congress to advocate against these proposals, armed with the sobering statistics that underscore the deadly consequences of increasing truck sizes and weights.

The Human Cost

Beyond the statistics, each number represents a human life lost, and families shattered by these preventable accidents. The push for larger trucks often overlooks the human cost, focusing instead on economic gains for large shipping companies. This perspective must shift to prioritize the safety and lives of motorists sharing the roads with these massive vehicles.

Preventative Measures and Advocacy

To combat the rising danger of semi-truck fatalities, several crucial steps can be taken:

Stronger Regulations

Reinforcing existing weight limits and rejecting proposals that seek to increase them is essential. Lawmakers must prioritize public safety over economic pressures from the trucking industry. Stricter regulations can help ensure that our roads remain safe for all users.

Public Awareness

Educating the public about the risks associated with larger trucks is vital. Awareness campaigns can help build a groundswell of support for safer road practices and encourage motorists to advocate for policies that protect them. By understanding the dangers, the public can push for necessary changes and drive safer practices on the roads.

Technological Advances

Investing in technology that enhances truck safety, such as advanced braking systems and collision avoidance technologies, can mitigate risks. These innovations can help reduce the frequency and severity of accidents involving large trucks. Embracing technological advancements ensures that trucks on the road are equipped with the best possible safety features.

Infrastructure Improvements

Enhancing road infrastructure to safely accommodate current truck sizes and weights can reduce accident rates. Well-maintained and designed roads can help manage the increased stress from heavy trucks and create safer travel conditions for all vehicles. Infrastructure improvements are a critical component in the effort to reduce accidents and enhance road safety.

Strict Enforcement

Strictly enforcing safety regulations and weight limits is crucial. Regular inspections and penalties for violations can deter unsafe practices and ensure compliance with safety standards. Enforcement agencies must be diligent in their efforts to maintain high safety standards on our roads.

What to Do After a Semi-Collision

Being involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer or other heavy commercial vehicle can be a traumatic and overwhelming experience. Knowing what steps to take immediately after the collision can protect your rights and ensure your safety, here are our recommendations for what to do after a semi-truck accident:

  1. Ensure Safety/Move to Safety: if possible, move your vehicle to a safe location away from traffic to prevent further accidents. Turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers.
  1. Check for Injuries: Check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If anyone is injured, immediately call 911 and request medical assistance. Do not attempt to move anyone who is seriously injured unless they are in immediate danger.
  1. Call 911: Even if the accident seems minor, it’s super important to call 911. The police will document the scene and create an official report which will be key for any legal or insurance claims. Cooperate with officers by providing a clear and accurate account of the accident. Avoid admitting fault or speculating about the cause of the accident.
  1. Gather Information: Exchange contact and insurance information with the truck driver, make sure to get:
    • The driver’s name and contact information;
    • The trucking company’s name and contact information;
    • The truck’s license plate number;
    • The insurance company’s name and policy number.
  1. Document the Scene: Take detailed notes and photographs of the accident scene, including:
    • Damage to all vehicles involved;
    • Road conditions and weather;
    • Traffic signs and signals;
    • Any visible injuries;
    • Skid marks, debris and other relevant details;
    • If there are any witnesses, ask for their contact information and a brief statement of what they saw.
  1. Seek Medical Attention: Even if you don’t feel injured, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible to ensure you are okay. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent but could have serious long-term effects. See Auto Accident Delayed Injury Onset. Follow up with your healthcare provider for any necessary treatments or checkups. See The Impact of Delayed & Gapped Treatment in Missouri & Kansas Car Accident Injury Claims.
  1. Consult with a Kansas City Truck Accident Lawyer: An experienced truck accident attorney can help you navigate the legal complexities, deal with insurance companies, and ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries and damages. Avoid early offers of settlement from insurance companies for an amount that is less than what you deserve.
  1. Notify Your Insurance Company: Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible and provide all the necessary information and documentation.

Kansas City Truck Accident Injury Lawyers

The rising fatalities involving semi-trucks in Kansas, Missouri, and across the nation present a clear and present danger that requires immediate attention. Legislative efforts to increase truck sizes and weights threaten to exacerbate this already critical issue. By advocating for stronger regulations, raising public awareness, and investing in safety technologies and infrastructure, we can work towards a future where our roads are safer for everyone.

If you or your loved one has suffered serious injuries caused by a negligent commercial driver, our dedicated Kansas City truck accident trial attorneys at Kendall Law Group are here to help you put your life back together. We understand the challenges you face and are committed to fighting for your rights. Contact us today for a free consultation at (816) 531-3100.

Additional Resources

Kansas City Truck Accident Lawyers

Trucking Company Negligence

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