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The Facts About Fatal Commercial Truck Crashes

According to the latest report from the federal government, the number of fatal truck crashes is not slowing down.

In October the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the federal agency that regulates the nation’s commercial trucking industry, released a comprehensive review of accidents involving large commercial vehicles, including buses and trucks, for 2019 (“Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2019”). This is the most recent year that finalized crash data is available.

FMCSA defines large trucks as rigs with a gross weight of more than 10,000 pounds. A fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds.

Fatal Truck Crashes Increasing

The report clearly shows that the number of fatal truck accidents increased in 2019 – not only over the year prior, but over several years prior. The number of fatal accidents involving large trucks increased 2% in 2019 over 2018. But the number of fatal crashes involving large commercial trucks jumped some 50% from 2009 to 2019.

And, from 2009 to 2019, the number of people killed in fatal commercial truck crashes spiked 48%.  In that same time frame, the number of people in Missouri killed in trucking accidents increased almost 60%.

Nearly 85% of those killed in a commercial truck crash in 2019 was someone other than the truck driver. This is an unfortunate reality given that large commercial trucks are so much heavier than passenger cars and motorcycles.

Truck Drivers Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol

Besides the weight discrepancy, truck driver drug use was another factor in 2019 fatal truck crashes.  About 6% of the truck drivers involved in fatal accidents failed a drug test.  But there could have been more.  Over half of all commercial truck drivers in fatal wrecks were not drug tested, according to the FMCSA report.

Another 2% of commercial truck drivers in fatal wrecks were driving drunk, testing at or above of an .08% blood alcohol level.  That is the threshold for passenger car drivers.  The drunk-driving benchmark for commercial truck drivers is half of that, at .04%.

The report said there was a truck driver-related factor in a third of all fatal commercial truck accidents in 2019.  The top identified truck driver dangerous behaviors were:

·         Speeding

·         Driving distracted

The recently signed federal infrastructure bill will mean more highway construction in the coming years.  Highway work zones can be extremely dangerous for construction workers, especially when drivers are not paying attention.  If that inattentive driver is hauling a tractor-trailer weighing 80,000 pounds, the results can be catastrophic.

According to NHTSA, 33 percent of the nation’s fatal work zone crashes involved at least one large commercial truck in 2019.

As long as negligent truck driver behavior and negligent trucking company behavior continue, chances are the number of fatal truck crashes and fatal truck crash victims will continue to rise.

If you were seriously hurt or you had a family member killed in a crash involving a commercial truck, speak with a truck accident attorney about your legal rights to just compensation from all those responsible.

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 December 7, 2021