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Truck fatalities display an alarming trend.

Posted by Scott M. Peterson | Apr 10, 2017

Reports from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) display an alarming trend in the number of truck fatalities over the last several years. 

The FMCSA, which oversees large truck highway safety, compiles data from around the country relating to truck and highway accidents, and presents this data in several ways from which trends can be observed. 

One trend that is frightening – the number of truck fatalities is on the rise.  

In 1975 there were 4,816 total fatalities in large truck and bus crashes.  This amounted to .363 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled by all motor vehicles. 

The number of fatalities climbed to a high of 7,054 in 1979, before dropping slightly and hovering around 5,000-6,000 for the next two decades. 

By the early 2000's, the number of annual total fatalities in large truck and bus crashes had dropped consistently into the low 5,000's, reaching a low of 3,610 in 2009.  It is important to note that during that time the number of total miles traveled also increased significantly, to the point where by 2009 the number of fatalities per 100 million miles traveled had decreased to .122.

So, there's no question that the FMCSA, along with truck and bus owners and operators, have increased safety over the course of the last 40 years.

Unfortunately, since 2009, the trend has started to move in the opposite direction. 

Despite hitting a low in 2009, by 2015 the number of total fatalities in large truck and bus crashes had crept back up to 4,337.  Once again both the total number of miles driven and total number of registered trucks had also increased, however the number of fatalities per 100 million miles traveled had crept up to .140. 

Now, this may seem like a very small increase, however when the larger charts are considered in the context of the fact that cars and trucks are becoming safer every day, these numbers represent an alarming statistic. 

Truck accidents and fatalities should be decreasing, not increasing.  In today's world, where safety is such a critical consideration, there is simply no excuse for more people to be injured and killed by large truck and bus accidents than in previous years.

It is likely that the negative trend is the result of a number of factors, but from our own experience it may be attributable, at least in part, to distracted driving and in particular texting and emailing while driving

Given what we know about distracted driving accidents and their corresponding increase as smart phone technology has increased, how can we not consider that any increase in truck and bus accidents and fatalities is due, at least in part, to distracted driving? 

While it is encouraging to think that fatalities from large truck and bus accidents are less than 1/3 as likely as they were in the late 1970's, it is likewise frustrating to consider that these numbers are not continuing to decrease.  Cars and trucks are arguably safer today than they have ever been, yet the numbers are moving in the wrong direction.  Distracted driving, we believe, is a critical problem for the current generation of drivers and passengers that does not receive nearly enough attention.  When you combine distracted driving with a large truck or bus, you can see the potentially devastating results.

If you have questions about a large truck or bus accident contact us today.

About the Author

Scott M. Peterson

Scott M. Peterson is the founding partner of D'Orazio Peterson, having left a partnership at a large regional law firm to limit his practice and focus on helping people protect their families.

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