Skip to main content

Why Do Fatal Truck Crashes Continue to Climb?

By June 7, 2019June 21st, 2019Blog, Car & Truck Accidents
tired truck drivers

The number of people killed in crashes with commercial trucks is on the rise again.

Last month the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released its annual report on accidents involving commercial buses and big rigs.  The report (“Large Trucks and Bus Crash Facts 2017”) is an exhaustive review of 2017 accidents, the most recent year that final statistics are available.

The FMCSA reports that 4,761 people died in fatal truck crashes and fatal commercial bus crashes.  That continues an upward trend of fatalities that began in 2009.  Every year since then, but one, the number of people killed rose over the year prior.  Since 2009 to 2017, deaths in commercial truck accidents spiked 40 percent.

Fatal Truck Accidents in Missouri

Deaths in commercial truck crashes in Missouri also rose 29 percent over that time. And the number of fatal truck accidents in the state jumped 32 percent.

The number of semis involved in fatal crashes across the country jumped 10 percent in just one year, from 2016 to 2017.

As an indicator of the dramatic size and weight discrepancy between passenger cars and tractor-trailers, 82 percent of all deaths in large commercial truck crashes were not occupants of the trucks; they were either riding in other vehicles or were pedestrians.

So why are fatal truck crashes and fatalities in commercial truck accidents on the rise?

One commonsense explanation is there are simply more big rigs on the road today.  The boom of internet shopping closely corresponds with the jump in catastrophic truck wrecks.  More online shopping requires more trucks to deliver those goods.

More than eight of 10 fatal truck crashes in 2017 occurred during the typical work week: Monday through Friday.  Putting more trucks on the road during heavy drive time increases the odds for fatal truck wrecks with passenger cars.

Highway commuters were the most at risk. Per the FMCSA report, a third of the fatal truck accidents happened on roads with a speed limit between 50 and 55 mph. Another 21 percent occurred in speed limits between 60 and 65 mph.

Speeding Truck Drivers

Truckers who speed are a danger to other drivers.  Rigs that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds traveling at highway speeds take up to the length of a football field to stop. A fatigued trucker – someone who exceeded legal work limits and is too tired to drive safely – may be inattentive and not stop in time, causing serious injuries and deaths.

More trucks on the road increase the odds of having more distracted truck drivers on the road as well.  Federal law prohibits commercial truckers from using hand-held cell phones while driving, but that certainly hasn’t stopped all such negligent behavior.

If you lost a loved one or you were seriously injured in a crash involving a commercial truck, contact an attorney experienced in representing victims of truck accidents, who can pursue justice on your behalf.

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 June 7, 2019