Statistical evidence shows that approximately 1,000 heavy truck occupants are killed in crashes every year. During the 1980s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sponsored a number of research papers that evaluated statistical information related to heavy truck crashes in the United States. The reports consistently found that the primary contributing factor to heavy truck occupant fatalities were injuries caused by ejection and rollover which involved severe cab deformation and occupant entrapment. The same reports consistently found that the best way to reduce heavy truck occupant fatalities was to enhance the structural integrity of the cabs, and improve methods to reduce occupant impacts with the interior surfaces of the vehicles. Despite this overwhelming evidence, heavy truck crashworthiness and cab roof strength is not regulated by the federal government. In contrast, passenger car manufacturers are required to pass minimum roof strength and crashworthiness standards found in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
Although the crashworthiness of heavy truck cabs is not regulated in the United States, there have been foreign standards in place for years. Heavy trucks sold in foreign countries are required to meet a variety of crashworthiness and roof strength standards including the Swedish standard and the ECE Rule 29 standard. These foreign standards require cab strength testing by static and dynamic loads. These particular tests require impacts to the roof, rear of the cab, front of the cab and the A pillars of the cab.
Apparently, in response to the overwhelming research data, American heavy truck manufacturers undertook the “Heavy Truck Crashworthiness Study” in conjunction with the Society of Automotive Engineers (“SAE”) during the 1990s. This study culminated in an SAE recommended practice for testing the strength of heavy truck cabs. Unfortunately, the test does not simulate actual forces that would be imparted into a heavy truck cab that rolled over while travelling down the highway. As a result, heavy trucks manufactured in the United States still provide unsafe cabs of thin aluminum with fiberglass roofs. Therefore, truck occupant fatalities continue to occur in the event of rollovers. It is very difficult for a heavy truck driver to survive a wreck when the roof and cab structure disintegrate around him during a wreck and fail to maintain reasonable occupant survival space.
Bodily injuries can arise from other defects within the 18-wheeler itself, such as a headache (header board) rack defect, a seatbelt defect, an airbag defect, under ride protection defect, or any other defect. Our firm pursues these claims in Alabama under the Alabama Extended Manufacturer’s Liability Doctrine (AEMLD). In other states, the laws of those states are the basis for claims.
If you would like more information regarding 18-wheeler accidents and the types of claims that may arise from them, contact Cole Portis or Ben Baker at 800-898-2034 or email them at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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