According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatalities in accidents involving large trucks increased by 5.4 percent in 2016 over the number of deaths that occurred in 2015, which was the highest number since 2007. An increase in the vehicle miles traveled and reckless driving behaviors such as speeding, driving while impaired and not using safety belts were contributing factors. The NHTSA reports that driver errors account for 94 percent of all serious accidents that happen in the U.S.
What’s Driving the Increase in Truck Accident Fatalities?
In 2016, 4,317 people were killed in accidents that involved commercial trucks. By contrast, 4,067 people were killed in large truck crashes in 2015. Of those who were killed in 2016, 72.4 percent were the occupants of passenger vehicles, 10.8 percent were not inside of vehicles and 16.7 percent were inside of the trucks. Among vehicle accidents overall, there was a 1.7 percent increase in deaths caused by drunk drivers. Deaths that were caused by accidents in which the drivers were speeding increased by 4.4 percent. Interestingly, distracted driving-related deaths decreased in 2016 by 2.2 percent, and drowsy-driving deaths fell by 3.5 percent. The number of vehicle miles that were traveled in 2016 increased by 2.2 percent.
Truck accidents may be caused by truck drivers, other motorists, defective parts or environmental factors. Fatal accidents that involved drunk truck drivers increased by 50.9 percent in 2016. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration identified several other driver-related factors in 2015, including truck drivers rear-ending vehicles or crossing the median and striking passenger vehicles head-on. Truck accidents may also be caused by speeding, aggressive driving, driver inattention, improper lane changes and illegal maneuvers when drivers are entering or exiting freeways.
Some truck accidents are caused by the negligence of third parties. Accidents might be caused by companies that negligently repair or maintain the trucks. Municipalities may be liable if defects in the roads cause accidents. Some accidents are also caused by loads that are improperly secured or loaded. Distributors that load the trucks incorrectly may be liable for accidents that are caused by loads that shift or that fall from the trucks. Truck accident attorneys investigate accidents to identify all of the parties who may hold liability.