A trucking accident poses a serious risk of catastrophic injury or death. These accidents can be deadly, due to a number of factors, including the sheer size of the truck, the speed at which it is traveling and the force of impact. The number of lives lost in large truck accidents have reached the highest levels seen in 29 years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA reports that the number of fatalities from large truck accidents have gone up, while overall traffic fatalities have gone down.
According to the NHTSA, 37,133 people died in car accidents in 2017, which is a two percent decline from 2016. On the other hand, trucking accident fatalities increased by nine percent. Of those trucking accident fatalities, 40 percent of those killed were not wearing seat belts.
The biggest increase in deaths was found in trucks weighing anywhere from 10,000 to 14,999 pounds, which includes dual rear-wheel pickup trucks.
Fatalities involving semi-trucks also increased over this period. If a truck weighs more than 26,000 pounds, it must abide by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations. Fatalities involving trucks in this category went up 5.8 percent from 2016 to 2017.
One of the biggest factors cited for these accidents was distracted driving. While many new safety features, such as advanced driver assistance, automatic emergency braking, and lane departure warnings are meant to prevent accidents, these features do not always prevent them if they are caused by distracted driving.
Whether the truck driver is distracted at the time of the accident can affect who is liable for injuries sustained in a trucking accident. While many times the truck company is the responsible party, if the truck driver’s negligence caused the accident, such as willfully driving while distracted, the truck driver can be held liable.
Given the fact that truck drivers are often pressured to drive long hours, including at night and under poor health conditions, it is not surprising how easily truck drivers can become distracted behind the wheel. That momentary lapse in judgment, including the driver taking his or her eyes off the road, can result in catastrophic and deadly consequences.
Semi-trucks are approximately 20 times larger than the average vehicle and can weigh up to 80,000 lbs. when they are fully loaded, putting the average car at a distinct disadvantage if involved in an accident with one.
Regulations as to how long truck drivers can drive on the road at any given length of time may also help in terms of preventing drowsy driving. Additionally, Florida lawmakers have implemented legislation cracking down on distracted driving, especially with respect to driving and using a cellular device. As of October 1, 2019, drivers are not allowed to use cell phones while driving in active construction zones or school zones. Lawmakers have expressed the desire to expand this protection to using cell phones on any roadway in the State of Florida.
Trucking Fatalities Reach Highest Level in 29 Years– Trucks.com