Vehicle accident fatalities in the United States are on the decline- except when it comes to large trucks. According to a recent report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatal accidents involving large trucks have increased by nearly 10 percent in just one year and all drivers should be aware of the dangers.
Trucking Accident Trends
Large Trucks Are Killers
Large trucks are making roads across the country more hazardous than ever for travelers. Shocking data revealed in the NHTSA’s 2017 Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes report illustrates an uptick in fatalities resulting from trucking accidents, and the majority of these deaths are occupants of other vehicles on the road. Here are the deadly trends to be concerned with regarding large trucking accidents from 2016 to 2017:
- Crash fatalities involving large trucks went up by 9%.
- Tractor-trailer crash fatalities increased by 5.8%
- Single unit crash fatalities increased by 18.7%
A total of 4,761 people were killed in trucking accidents in 2017, a tragic bump of 392 deaths from the year before. While 841 of these fatalities were occupants of the large trucks involved in the accidents, 3,920 of these deaths were other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians on the road- unsuspecting victims just trying to go about their day.
Lack of FMCSA Regulation
Another important trend to notice in the 2017 NHTSA crash fatality report is that some large trucks are posing more of a danger on the roads than others. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) which is dedicated to preventing injuries and deaths related to commercial vehicles, believes smaller and unregulated large trucks may be to blame for the death spike.
FMCSA has a number of regulations trucks and drivers must follow in order to remain compliant with their safety measures. They use USDOT numbers to track and monitor company vehicles, evaluating their driving habits, compliance reviews, investigations, and audits to help improve the overall safety of the roads. Unfortunately, the FMCSA has a limit to which trucks they have the authority to regulate. The NHTSA data is showing that larger trucks involved in the spike of traffic fatalities may be out of the weight limit to be regulated by the FMCSA, allowing them to continue reckless driving practices that could lead to more fatal accidents on the road.
Why Trucking Accidents Are So Deadly
There are hundreds of reasons for why a trucking accident could occur, the most common being driver error, inclement weather, poor vehicle maintenance, equipment failure, and improper cargo loading. Regardless of what factors cause these accidents, all crashes involving large trucks have the ability to cause catastrophic injuries and tragically high death tolls based on these three factors:
- Massive Size: A large truck is defined by the U.S. Department of Transportation as a vehicle weighing more than 10,000 pounds, but some can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when loaded. Tractor-trailers weigh an average of 35,000 pounds even when completely empty!l In addition, large trucks measure anywhere between 45 to 65 feet long in length, posing a seriously high threat to other vehicles on the road in the case of a collision.
- Lack of Maneuverability: As you might be able to imagine, large trucks that are this heavy and long are not easy to drive. Obstacles that could be easily avoided by a car on the road can be extremely difficult or impossible for trucks to maneuver around. Trucks do not have the ability to make any quick moves. Attempting to swerve could cause a truck’s trailer to skid out of control, crossing multiple lanes of traffic at the same time.
- Slow Stops: The heavier a vehicle is, the longer it takes to stop. Large trucks that are trying to avoid obstacles such as other cars who stop quickly will not be able to forcefully stop their massive machines right in place. Experts show it can take a truck well over 500 feet to come to a complete stop- in the meantime taking out everything in its path until it does.
How to Prevent Fatal Trucking Accidents
When a truck loses control, it’s too late to prevent the disaster that will unfold. However, there are several driving safety steps all drivers on the road can take to help prevent accidents involving large trucks from occurring in the first place:
- Brake slow and steady.
- Use your turn signals to give warning of your intentions.
- Signal early.
- Be aware of other drivers and their behaviors.
- Watch for signs of negligent driving- swerving, tailgating, speeding.
- Avoid participating in negligent driving behaviors.
- Don’t try to beat the trucks or swerve between them.
- Stay clear or trucks showing any sign of distracted driving.
It’s impossible to control the driving habits of large trucks on the road or even the negligent actions of other cars around these dangerous vehicles. But by using these safe driving tips whenever sharing the road with large trucks, you are doing everything in your power to reduce your risk of contributing to a trucking accident that could result in dozens of serious or fatal injuries.
Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?
Determining who is responsible for a deadly trucking accident is not always simple. There are a number of players that could be at fault for any injuries or deaths caused by a large truck that must be considered when considering liability:
- truck driver
- trucking company
- owner of the truck or trailer
- manufacturer of the truck and parts (tires, breaks, etc.)
- the loader of the truck’s cargo
It’s common for the parties above to battle with one another over insurance payments and liability. No one wants to take the full blame for commercial trucking accidents, especially when they result in fatalities. But among all the finger pointing, the victims of these accidents can often be forgotten, leaving individuals and families wondering if they will ever receive justice for their losses.
Long Island Trucking Accident Experts
When passenger cars come head-to-head with trucks of massive proportions, they don’t stand a chance at coming out ahead. The law firm of Siler & Ingber has been aggressively fighting back against negligent truck drivers and companies posing a threat to other drivers on the road for over 20 years. If you or someone you know has been injured in a trucking accident, contact our winning legal team at 1-877-529-4343 for a comprehensive case review.