Truck Driver Actions that Cause Fatal Crashes

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According to the federal government, in 2019 - the most recent year with finalized data - more than 5,000 people died in crashes with large commercial trucks. It recently identified the most common truck driver actions that caused those deadly wrecks.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration oversees this country’s commercial motor vehicle industry.  This includes large trucks, such as 18-wheelers. The FMCSA‘s goal is to prevent catastrophic truck crashes through:

·         Education

·         Regulation

·         Enforcing its safety mandates.

Earlier this month the agency conducted its 20th annual Analysis, Research, and Technology Sessions, which is a review of the safety of America’s roadways.  Virtual attendees this year included truck safety advocates, representatives of the commercial trucking industry, and government employees.

Catastrophic Truck Accident Statistics

The event uncovered a number of disturbing trends and information with respect to deadly tractor-trailer crashes.

First is just how dangerous heavy commercial rig crashes can be.  According to the FMCSA, trucks weighing over 33,000 pounds were responsible for nearly 70% of the 5,005 commercial truck crash deaths in 2019.

And between 2015 and 2019, the number of people killed in crashes with commercial rigs weighing at least 26,000 pounds increased some 7.3%.

But even smaller commercial trucks potentially are very dangerous.  The FMCSA reports that crashes involving rigs weighing between 10,000 and 14,000 pounds accounted for 13% of all truck crash deaths – the second largest percentage.

So what are the major causes of fatal commercial truck crashes?

Several leading causes have been identified, including:

·         Poor truck vehicle maintenance, such as defective brakes

·         Improper loading that causes shifting or falling cargo

·         Negligent truck driver hiring practices by trucking companies

Truck Driver Actions That Cause Deadly Truck Crashes

One more leading contributor to deadly semi-truck crashes is reckless driver behavior.  In this most recent report, the FMCSA identified the top truck-driver behaviors that factored into fatal crashes.   The top 10 listed were:

·         Truck driver speeding

·         Inattentive or distracted trucker

·         Fatigued truck driver or trucker impaired by alcohol

·         Truck driver fails to yield right of way

·         Careless driving by truck driver

·         Obscured vision

·         Improper lane usage by trucker

·         Trucker who failed to obey traffic signals

·         Truck driver following too closely

·         Truck not taking into account poor road conditions due to weather

These careless actions by truck drivers have dire consequences. In its own recap of 2019 traffic accidents (“Overview of Motor Vehicle Crashes in 2019”), the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reported that 71% of people killed in crashes with 18-wheelers were occupants in other vehicles.

The FMCSA also highlighted a growing number of pedestrians hit and killed by commercial trucks.  In 2009, 259 pedestrians died in tractor-trailer accidents.  By 2019, that number rose to 454 – a 75% jump.

With deaths in large truck crashes increasing in recent years, hovering at 5,000 in 2018 and 2019, truck drivers and trucking companies have a responsibility to stop careless actions that lead to fatal truck wrecks.  Especially since these dangerous behaviors have been clearly identified.

If you had a loved one die in a crash involving a commercial truck, or you were seriously injured when an 18-wheeler hit you, turn to a truck accident attorney experienced in investigating commercial truck crashes and dealing with uncooperative trucking companies.

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

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Blog April 8, 2021


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