What’s Behind the Rise in Fatal Trucking Accidents?

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Fatal motor vehicle accidents in the United States rose almost 8 percent in 2015 over 2014. Fatal trucking accidents increased 4 percent over the same timeframe. Both run counter to previous trends, and 2015 looks to have the highest number of traffic deaths since 2008.

What factors account for this rise in fatal trucking accidents and fatal car crashes?

Motor Vehicle Accidents Deaths Increased 8 Percent in Missouri and Neighboring States

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the upsurge in deaths from truck and car crashes was felt uniformly across the United States. The NHTSA breaks the country down into 10 regions. Missouri is in Region 7, along with four neighboring states. Those states and Missouri saw an 8 percent jump in fatal motor vehicle accidents in 2015 over the prior year. The only part of the country to experience a decrease in automotive crash deaths was Texas and four nearby states.

While fatal truck accidents were 4 percent higher in 2015 than 2014, the percentage of motorcyclists and pedestrians killed in motor vehicle crashes was even higher, at 9 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

All in all, if projections hold, about 35,200 people will have died in crashes involving cars and trucks in 2015. In 2014, that number was 32,675.

Is this just a one-year blip or will the deadly trend continue upward? According to one new study, that may depend upon the economy.

Better Economy Means More Trucks on Road, Better Chance for Fatal Accidents

A researcher at the University of Pennsylvania published her study in Social Science & Medicine. It seeks to establish a correlation between the economy and fatal motor vehicle crashes, noting that they decreased about 18 percent over the recent two-year period (2007 and 2008) known as the Great Recession. Following 2008, the economy started to improve, and deaths in truck and car crashes rose.

The researcher uncovered a startling link between the nation’s economy and fatal trucking accidents specifically. The study found that, from 2003 to 2013, fatal crashes involving large commercial trucks – like tractor-trailers – represented a dramatic cause-and-effect relationship: for every 1 percent drop in the unemployment rate, fatal trucking accidents rose 8 percent.

One possible explanation is that when the economy is strong, more people shop, more goods are shipped, and therefore more semis carrying those goods are on the road. The presence of additional trucks that weigh 10,000 pounds or more increase the odds for catastrophic crashes for everyone. This is because driver error is the leading cause of fatal trucking accidents. More overall truckers on the road equates to more careless truckers on the road as well.

When truck drivers make grave errors in judgment, other people can suffer greatly. If you had a family killed or you were seriously hurt in a crash involving a commercial truck, a truck accident attorney can protect your legal rights.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.