Why do Deaths in Trucking Crashes Continue to Rise?

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Federal statistics show that the number of people killed in crashes with large commercial trucks jumped another 5 percent.

In February the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration released its latest safety report on the nation’s large trucks.  Large trucks are those that weigh more than 10,000 pounds.  The report is for 2016.

Nearly 28 Percent Increase in Truck Accident Deaths

Unfortunately, this newest data reflect a steady upward trend of fatalities from big rig crashes.  In 2016, 4,317 people died in trucking accidents, a 5 percent increase over 2015.  From 2009 to 2016, the number of people killed in commercial truck accidents increased nearly 28 percent.  And the deaths rose each and every year.

What can explain this rise in fatal truck accidents?

An improving economy means more goods sold throughout the United States.  This requires more trucks on the road.  More big rigs weighing up to 20 tons place more drivers in jeopardy, which the data reflect.  The number of commercial trucks involved in deadly crashes from 2009 to 2016 also rose; about 31 percent.

Most fatal trucking accidents don’t occur on interstates.  Almost three out of every four deadly truck crashes occurred on non-interstate roads in 2016.  And 62 percent occurred in rural areas.  A possible explanation is that a good portion of the deaths involved collisions with delivery trucks that don’t spend most of the time on highways.

The most comprehensive study ever done on commercial trucking accidents found that a leading cause is driver error.  This new report highlights some of the irresponsible truck driver behaviors that lead to serious crashes.

Truckers Who Speed or Drink and Drive

Two percent of the commercial truck drivers involved in fatal wrecks had a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit.  That is a smaller percentage of other drivers that crashed in 2016.  But drunk truck drivers responsible for mammoth rigs can do much more damage than drivers of passenger vehicles.

Inattentive and careless truck drivers appear to repeat their errors.  A little more than 20 percent of truckers in fatal crashes in 2016 had previous crashes.  And 22 percent of truck drivers in deadly accidents that year were previously convicted for speeding.

It appears that unless the number of big rigs on the road decrease and truck drivers improve their behavior, deaths in large truck crashes will only continue to increase.

If you were seriously hurt or lost a loved one in a crash with a commercial truck, contact a truck accident attorney to bring those responsible to account.

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

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog March 12, 2018