Pennsylvania Truck Accidents and the New Federal Safety Initiative

A number of accidents last summer involving tractor-trailers in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, showed what a serious problem truck accidents still are – and how important it is to improve safety regulation.

The Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association suggests that such accidents are commonly caused by motorists who fail to drive safely around tractor trailers.

However, police believe that tractor-trailer drivers may have caused two recent accidents where four motorists died. On July 30, 2010, two motorists died in an accident when a northbound tractor-trailer crossed the grass median into the southbound lanes, hitting a Jeep Wrangler. The Jeep, while damaged and immovable in the southbound lane, was then hit by southbound semi-truck.

Police also report that when rescue crews and paramedics responded to the crash, another truck rear-ended a car that had slowed to observe the crash scene, killing the two occupants of the car and causing a chain reaction involving a third vehicle.

In the hope of preventing accidents such as these, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration continues to implement a new safety initiative called Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010. The goal is to enhance the ability government regulators to educate motor carriers and drivers about their potential safety problems, and to reduce truck and bus crashes, injuries and fatalities. The initiative also introduces a new enforcement and compliance model that allows FMCSA and state law enforcement agencies to contact a larger number of carriers earlier in order to address safety issues before crashes occur.

CSA 2010 has three major components:

  • Measurement – CSA 2010 measures safety performance by using inspection and crash results to identify carriers whose behaviors could reasonably lead to crashes.
  • Evaluation – FMCSA and state law enforcement agencies will determine what types of interventions are required to correct safety issues, and find whether carriers should be “unfit” to operate based on safety compliance.
  • Intervention – This will include warning letters, comprehensive inspections and powers to issue penalties for non-compliance. Interventions are meant to help carriers early on to understand their safety problems and to change unsafe behavior.

CSA 2010 was originally planned to take effect last summer. However, pressure and feedback from many groups delayed the rollout to the fall of 2010. As of October 2010, nine states have implemented the new operating model: Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, and New Jersey. Nationwide implementation of new enforcement tools will begin in 2011.