Federal Regulators May Require Device Requiring Truckers to Apply Brakes During Ignition

By October 23, 2009Trucking Regulations

Because I am a Missouri trucking accident attorney, I keep an eye on any safety changes that come out of the National Transportation Safety Board, the federal agency that regulates interstate trucking. That’s how I came across an article on Today’sTrucking.com Oct. 20 saying that federal safety regulators are considering a new rule intended to prevent accidents caused by truck drivers hitting the accelerator when they are trying to hit the brakes. According to the article, the NTSB’s decision comes after studying five accidents believed to have been caused by “pedal misapplication,” including a 2005 school bus crash in Liberty, Missouri.
To address this concern, the NTSB has asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to consider a rule that all new heavy vehicles — mainly semi trucks and school buses — must come with a brake transmission shift interlock device installed. These devices, which are already standard on lighter passenger vehicles, require drivers to depress the brakes in order to shift a vehicle with an automatic transmission out of Park. The NTSB hopes this requirement will cut down on incidents of unexpected acceleration caused by drivers’ mistakes. It also asked the NHTSA to analyze the pedal configurations in heavy vehicles to see if design defects can affect accidents, and provide pedal design guidelines to manufacturers.
As a St. Louis big rig accident lawyer, I’m always pleased to see regulatory action directed at preventing the deaths and serious injuries a semi truck crash can cause. In the Liberty bus accident the NTSB examined, the driver allegedly accelerated when she meant to brake, killing two people in other vehicles and injuring 23 of the children on board, two critically. In another Missouri crash the agency studied, a transit bus in Normandy, Missouri accidentally accelerated right after letting passengers off, killing four pedestrians. When heavy vehicles — officially defined as vehicles over 10,000 pounds — accelerate out of control, they have the power to crush everything in their path, including pedestrians and other motorists. Pedal misapplication may not be common, but when the results are this serious, it’s worth tweaking the design of heavy trucks to prevent them.


Based in St. Louis, the Lowe Law Firm represents clients in Missouri and southern Illinois who were seriously injured in an accident with a large truck. Truck drivers, like all drivers, have a legal responsibility to take reasonable care on the road, and their trucking companies have a responsibility to send them out with safe, legal equipment and loads. When they don’t meet this standard and people are hurt, those victims have the right to hold them legally liable for their actions. Our southern Illinois tractor-trailer injury attorneys help victims claim all of the financial costs of their injuries, as well as compensation for pain, trauma, injuries and any disability or death. Our goal is to help accident victims and families struggling with devastating physical and financial blows get the money they need to secure treatment and get back on their feet.
If you or a loved one was hit by an 18-wheeler in Missouri or Illinois, and you believe it was the truck driver’s fault, the Lowe Law Firm can help. To set up a free, confidential evaluation of your case, please contact us through the Internet or call us toll-free at 1-877-678-3400.