More and more tragedies have been featured in Georgia news lately that involved commercial trucks. In 2014, tractor trailer trucks were involved in 16,518 Georgia vehicle crashes. These big rig traffic accidents led to the loss of 157 lives. Because of the increase in the number of tractor trailer wrecks occurring in recent years, officials at both federal and state levels are implementing additional safety efforts.
Beginning August 1, 2017, trucks that weigh 26,000 pounds or more will be subject to new regulations. These new rules were recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board and require heavy-duty trucks to be manufactured with electronic stability-control systems. This safety feature is standard in model year 2012 and newer passenger vehicles, but until recently was not required in tractor trailers. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) makes use of engine torque and computer-controlled braking to prevent 18 wheelers from skidding or rolling over. While rollover crashes account for only 3.3% of all commercial truck accidents, rollovers led to more than 50% of fatalities in 2012. This innovative tractor trailer regulation is estimated to prevent approximately 1,759 accidents and 49 deaths each year, according to the NHTSA. In addition to 18 wheelers, this government regulation will also affect buses that weigh over 33,000 pounds in 2018.
In addition to this federal-level directive, on Thursday Governor Nathan Deal announced plans to spend $10 million on a state-wide tractor trailer safety plan. Efforts will center on hiring 60 officers to the commercial-truck enforcement division of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. These additional officers will be spread throughout areas commonly traveled by tractor trailers, especially busy interstates. Similar to Georgia state troopers, newly appointed officers will focus on large commercial trucks by pulling drivers over for traffic violations, as well as examining trucks when necessary. Over 30 of the new law enforcement officials will be posted on I-16 and I-95 in southeast Georgia, while another 20 will be stationed in metro Atlanta. The remaining officers will patrol Interstate 85 south of Atlanta.
Each of these added regulations are meant to make Interstates and highways safer not only for commercial truck drivers, but for occupants of passenger vehicles as well. Tractor trailer crashes often times leave victims with life-threatening injuries, so prevention is important.