As more commercial trucks are on the road and traveling more miles than ever before, the number of accidents involving these commercial trucks has increased as well. Trucks move roughly 71% of the nation’s freight by weight, according to the American Trucking Associations. In fact, there are more than 500,000 trucking companies in the United States with over 15 1/2 million trucks on the road with 2,000,000 being semi-tractor trailers or 18-wheelers.
Due to the sheer size and weight of these commercial trucks, as well as the speed they travel on the highway, the accidents involving these trucks are never small. The number of fatalities from trucking accidents have increased rapidly over the past two years at an alarming rate, according to figures from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
The latest statistics reveal that 35,882 people died in commercial trucking-related accidents between the years 2009 and 2017, according to data from Road Safe America (RSA). The organization also reported that all states, except for six, had an increase in accidents involving commercial trucks. Florida is one of the top five states in the nation that reported the greatest number of truck accident fatalities in 2017.
The FMCSA reported that in 2009, 3,193 people were killed in fatal accidents involving either a commercial truck or bus. This number jumped to 5,005 in 2017, which is a remarkable and disturbing increase. Many of the individuals killed in these accidents were in passenger vehicles.
However, the number of truck driver fatalities increased as well. In 2009, it was reported that 499 occupants of commercial trucks involved in accidents died, while this figure nearly doubled to 841 in 2017. Of these 841 people killed in 2017, 717 of them were the drivers of the commercial trucks.
Jack Van Steenburg, the assistant administrator and chief safety officer with FMCSA, stated that the lack of seat belt use is a direct contributing factor to the increase in fatalities. He reported that half of the occupants in the commercial trucks included in the FMCSA study who died were not wearing their seat belt at the time of the accident.
FMCSA research showed that seat belt compliance is approximately 86 percent for both commercial trucks and buses. Their data showed of the truck occupants who died, one-third of them were speeding while half were not wearing their seat belts.
As these figures show, speeding is a contributing factor in many commercial truck accidents. In fact, in the RSA study, five states, including Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Texas and Nevada, reported large increases in truck accident fatalities. All of these states happen to have truck speed limits of 70 mph or more. When a truck is traveling that fast, it can be difficult for the driver to control the vehicle if a sudden and unexpected stop is needed.
Commercial truck drivers are also required to put in a lot of hours on the road, which can result in driver fatigue and exhaustion. Additional factors that result in trucking accidents include distracted driving, as well as alcohol and drug use behind the wheel.
Filing a Lawsuit
If you have been involved in a trucking accident with an 18-wheeler, tractor-trailer or a commercial truck that resulted in damages such as property damage, injury or the death of a family member, you will need to file a lawsuit to receive adequate compensation for your injuries. The most common cause of trucking accidents is driver negligence. Truck drivers spend most of their time on the road and as a result, they sometimes direct their attention elsewhere. This is also known as distracted driving. It can be difficult to prove negligence due to distracted driving in court. You need to hire an experienced truck accident lawyer to help you file a lawsuit. In order to prove negligence, you will need to prove three things in court: 1.) The trucking accident occurred due to negligence/carelessness 2.) The trucking accident caused you harm 3.) You deserve compensation for the damages you suffered in the trucking accident.
An experienced trucking accident lawyer will help you gather evidence for court, such as police reports, eyewitness testimonies, expert witness testimonies, cell phone records, photographs and videos of the scene and any other evidence that will demonstrate negligence. For example, if you can prove that the truck driver was texting while driving by using his or her cell phone records; this will prove the driver failed to act in a careful manner.
At the law firm of Michael T. Gibson, P.A. we will ask questions pertaining to speed, distraction and weight of the truck. Was the truck driver speeding at the time of the accident? Were distractions such as cell phones a factor? Did the truck’s heavy load contribute to its failure to stop? What is the maximum height and weight limits as required by the truck’s manufacturer? Were all safety standards adhered to?
Accidents involving commercial vehicles can be complicated, expensive and involve serious and fatal injuries. If you or a loved one have been involved in a car accident with a commercial truck, tractor-trailer or an 18-wheeler, it is important to contact an experienced Orlando Truck Accident Lawyer to help you file a lawsuit. We can help you obtain compensation for medical bills, future medical treatment, loss of wages, pain and suffering, etc. Feel free to fill out our quick contact form on our website to discuss your legal options in greater detail.