With everything from crashes by de facto illegal bus companies to commercial driver fatigue putting commercial vehicle safety in the headlines of late, it is perhaps no surprise that two key trucking advocacy groups have stepped up to the plate and are pitching for the National Highway Traffic Safety Admin, (NHTSA) to begin researching standards for the crashworthiness of heavy trucks.

Pointing out having such standards “could benefit America’s professional truck drivers,” the American Trucking Assns (ATA) and the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Assn. (OOIDA) have teamed up to push this highway-safety agenda item.

“NHTSA has continuously developed crashworthiness standards for automobiles and light trucks, but to date has generally not applied crashworthiness standards to commercial trucks,” the two groups wrote in a June 6 letter to David Strickland, NHTSA Administrator. “We believe there may be opportunities to enhance the survivability of professional truck drivers if appropriate, research-based, uniform standards are developed.”

The letter specifically states that crashworthiness standards should be considered for the “tractor/truck cabs of commercial motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 lbs or more.” That would cover all Class 7 and 8 trucks.

Also, the letter points out that ATA and OOIDA are “aware of industry standards that original truck equipment manufacturers follow, and NHTSA’s research should also consider the merits of existing industry-driven standards and testing.”

Specifically, ATA and OOIDA said in the letter they “highlighted the need for improving cab structure and occupant restraints such as safety belts and airbags, strengthening windshields and doors to prevent occupant ejections, and installing more forgiving interior surfaces.”

“Our organizations believe that improvements in truck occupant safety can be achieved,” the letter concluded. “We look forward to working with NHTSA on this and other important highway safety efforts.”

“Making our highways safer, especially for our drivers, is one of ATA’s highest priorities,” ATA president & CEO Gov. Bill Graves noted. “ATA has made setting crashworthiness standards a part of our progressive safety agenda and we’re proud to stand with OOIDA in calling on the federal government to take these important first steps that will reduce injuries and fatalities among America’s professional truck drivers.”

Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vp. “We are more than glad to join ATA in making this request to hold the safety of professional truck drivers to as high a standard as all other motor vehicle users,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vp. “The most valuable, even most precious, cargo truckers haul is themselves and it’s time that our standards reflect that value.”

To read the full text of ATA and OOIDA’s letter, click here.