Federal agencies Trucking Transportation

Can better truck design help protect vulnerable road users?


Photo: Our Roads, our Responsibility

Washington — The Government Accountability Office has agreed to look into how vehicle design – including that of large commercial trucks – could improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users.

The move comes in response to a request from Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who sent a letter to the agency in May.

Raskin emphasized the need for solutions to protect pedestrians and bicyclists in “blind zones.” These include the areas in front of or behind a commercial motor vehicle that aren’t directly visible from the driver’s seat.

In his letter, Raskin also called on GAO to:

  • Explore challenges automakers and federal regulators face in addressing pedestrian and cyclist safety.
  • Determine options Congress and regulators should consider to reduce the risk of death related to vehicle design.
  • Research actions of transportation safety regulators in other countries to lower traffic deaths.

“Traffic fatalities in the United States have persisted at alarming levels,” Raskin wrote to GAO, “with the number of pedestrians and bicyclists killed annually reaching record highs.”

In a press release from Raskin’s office, National Safety Council President and CEO Lorraine M. Martin applauds his request for solutions that “federal government leaders can implement to eliminate these preventable tragedies.”

The Together for Safer Roads coalition also welcomes the research.

“With tens of thousands of trucks traveling U.S. roads daily, we must enhance truck cab design to improve driver visibility,” TSR Executive Director Peter Goldwasser said in a separate release. “This step is vital for boosting safety outcomes, achieving safety goals, and increasing driver comfort and satisfaction.”

Goldwasser adds that London has observed a 75% reduction in fatal crashes and a 64% drop in crashes resulting in severe injuries since enacting a direct vision standard in 2019.

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