The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has recorded another annual increase in commercial motor vehicle fatalities. In 2017, the latest year for which statistics are available, there were 5,005 such fatalities. In contrast, 2009 saw 3,193 CMV crash deaths. Drivers in West Virginia should know that 4,164 out of those 5,005 fatalities were occupants of passenger vehicles.
Further research from the FMCSA shows that in one-third of all fatal accidents, the CMV drivers were speeding. In about half of the accidents, truckers failed to wear their seat belts. In general, seat belt compliance among drivers of CMVs (which includes not only big rigs but also buses) is 86 percent. Among passenger vehicle drivers, it is 90 percent. For the FMCSA, seat belt neglect is the leading factor in the increase in fatal accidents.
Other major factors in these fatal accidents were speeding (6.3 percent), distracted driving (5.6 percent), failure to yield (4.8 percent) and drug-, alcohol- or fatigue-related impairment (3.9 percent). Class 8 trucks, which are trucks over 33,000 pounds, were in 71.1 percent of the fatal crashes. This represents a decline from 77.4 percent in 2014.
Approximately 27 percent of all fatal accidents took place in work zones in 2016. The FMCSA hopes that advances in vehicle automation can help reduce this figure.
While West Virginia did not see a considerable increase in fatal commercial truck accidents like Florida, Georgia and California, this does not mean that local drivers are any safer. Truckers can be negligent at any time. However, victims of trucker negligence may be able to receive compensation if they file a personal injury claim. An attorney could evaluate a case, hire investigators and other third-party experts to bolster it with evidence and then proceed to settlement negotiations.