Despite more safety measures, federal mandates and technological improvements, the number of people killed in commercial large-truck crashes continues to rise. Between 2008 and 2017, deaths in fatal big rig accidents climbed 12 percent. In one year alone, from 2016 to 2017, the number of men, women and children who died in crashes involving tractor-trailers jumped 9 percent.
To put that in perspective, 4,761 people died in 2017 in large-truck crashes, or about 13 every day.
These numbers come from the latest report on large truck crashes in the United States released in January by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
Victims of Fatal Trucking Accidents
The NHTSA identifies large commercial trucks as those with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 5 tons. But fully loaded tractor-trailers can weigh much more – as much as 40 tons. Given this weight disparity, it’s not surprising that in 2017 72 percent of those who died in commercial truck accidents were occupants in other vehicles.
According to the Large Truck Causation Study, the federal government’s most comprehensive look at big rig accidents to date, the number one cause of fatal truck crashes is driver error. Driver error is a term that encompasses bad decisions as well as a trucker’s careless actions behind the wheel, such as talking on a cell phone while driving.
One bad truck driver decision is to drink and drive. The NHTSA reports that 3 percent of the truck drivers in involved in fatal crashes in 2017 were legally drunk, with a blood alcohol concentration at or above .08 percent.
The consequences of a drunk truck driver who causes a wreck can be catastrophic. For example, 82 percent of fatal large-truck crashes involved multiple vehicles, compared to 62 percent for fatal passenger vehicle accidents.
Truckers Who Drink and Drive
And when a truck driver causes a fatal wreck, there may have been previous warning signs and near misses. The NHTSA reports that about 21 percent of truckers involved in a fatal crash were found to have crashed before. That’s a higher percentage than drivers of motorcycles, passenger cars, and light trucks. About the same percentage of truck drivers in fatal accidents were also found to have at least one speeding conviction.
Laws to reduce catastrophic truck crashes, such as those that restrict the number of hours per week a trucker can be on the road, can only do so much. It ultimately comes to down to responsible behavior by truck drivers and truck companies to greatly reduce the number of people killed in commercial truck accidents.
If you were seriously hurt or lost a loved one in a crash involving a commercial truck, an attorney who represents victims of truck accidents can bring all 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 February 21, 2019