NHTSA: truck crash deaths reached 29-year high in 2017

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that, while motor vehicle crash fatalities went down 2% between 2016 and 2017, truck crash fatalities went up 9% from 4,369 to 4,761. This has marked 2017 as the year with the most truck crash deaths since 1988. Truckers and passenger vehicle drivers in West Virginia may want to know more.

Of the 4,761 deaths, about 1,300 were truckers. Occupants of the other vehicles accounted for the remainder of the fatalities. Fatal crashes involving 10,000- to 14,000-pound trucks, including dual rear-wheel pickups, saw the sharpest increase in fatalities. Tractor trailers that haul freight (these weigh more than 26,000 pounds and are subject to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules) were involved in 5.8% more crashes.

Distracted driving and not wearing a seat belt are major contributing factors. The former explains why fatalities continue to rise even as truck fleet owners are installing safety technology like collision warning systems, automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning systems. About 40% of truckers who died in crashes in 2017 were discovered not wearing their seat belts.

Another factor is the growing amount of freight that is being shipped across the country. It has reached an all-time high since an increasingly large amount of people rely on online shopping.

Besides being distracted, there are other ways that a trucker can be negligent. Log book violations frequently attest to the fact that truckers will disobey hours-of-service regulations. By overworking themselves, truckers will become drowsy behind the wheel. Whatever the form of negligence, those who are victims of a negligent truck driver may be able to sue the trucking company for compensatory damages. Since the trucking company will have its own legal team, victims may want a lawyer as well. This may benefit them when it comes time for negotiations.

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