Truck Accident Fatalities on the Rise, NHTSA Reports
Although statistics indicate that the amount of overall traffic accident fatalities has decreased over time, the same cannot be said for accidents involving large trucks. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2010 there was a 2.9 percent drop in traffic-related deaths from 2009. However, the number of fatalities from crashes involving large trucks actually jumped 8.7 percent during this time.
The NHTSA reports that there were 3,380 accident fatalities involving large trucks in 2009 and 3,675 in 2010. As a result of this increase, trucking industry professionals and safety advocates alike are trying to decipher exactly what these numbers mean.
Trucking Industry: "Don't Rush to Judgment"
Although the NHTSA statistics have raised some eyebrows in the industry, trucking professionals warn that it's no reason to get alarmed until more research has been compiled and analyzed.
"Every fatality on our highways is a tragedy, and the uptick in the 2010 preliminary report concerns us deeply. Without more information and analysis, though, it is difficult to draw conclusions about what this preliminary data means," Bill Graves of the American Trucking Associations said in a recent statement. "We would hope that policymakers will avoid the 'error of recency,' by overemphasizing the newest data at the expense of the overall, long-term trend, which has been overwhelmingly positive."
One area that Graves says needs further investigation is the role that passenger vehicles play in the large truck fatality statistics. In many cases, when trucks are involved in accidents with passenger vehicles, the crash is actually caused by the driver of the car - a fact that the statistics alone don't address.
Safety Advocates: "More Regulations Needed"
For safety advocates, the NHTSA statistics prove that more trucking regulations are needed in order to keep the roads safe.
"This distressing news that there are more truck crash fatalities in 2010 is a clear and compelling call for stronger regulations, tougher oversight, and sustained enforcement of motor carriers across the country," Jacqueline Gillan, the President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, insisted in a recent statement.
It's not uncommon for accident statistics to influence legislation, Gillan says. For example, statistics released by the Department of Transportation led to the creation of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act, which, if passed, would require that truck companies install electronic driver fatigue controls in their vehicles. In addition, the measure would increase penalties for companies that create reincarnated carriers.
Though any reduction in the number of annual truck accident fatalities would be heartening, even a single fatality is one too many. If you or a loved one has been involved in a devastating truck accident, please contact an experienced personal injury attorney to explore your legal options.