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Commercial vehicle deaths rising

Deaths from crashes involving large trucks and buses rose in 2017, the latest year that figures are available. Speeding was among the major culprits of this increase in commercial vehicle accidents, according to the assistant administrator and chief safety officer of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

There were 5,005 people killed in a fatal truck or bus crash in 2017. This was a steep rise from the 3,193 fatalities reported in 2009. Class 3 vehicles, essentially pickup trucks being used for commercial business, were a rising percentage of these deadly crashes. Most of those fatalities were occupants of the passenger vehicles in those crashes.

However, there were 841 truck occupants killed in 2017 which is another large increase from the 499 occupants who were killed nine years earlier. Of the 841 fatalities, 717 were drivers and 124 were passengers. Failure to wear seat belts increased the severity of the injuries suffered by commercial vehicle occupants and was an important factor in their rising fatalities.

According to the FMCSA, speeding was the major factor causing these crashes. Speeding was involved in 6.3 percent of all crashes. This was followed by distracted driving such as cell phone usage at 5.6 percent, failure to yield at 4.8 percent and impairment by drugs, alcohol or driver fatigue at 3.9 percent. Unspecified careless driving was involved in 3.9 percent of accidents.

The increased role of impaired driving is supported by other data. Positive drug tests of drivers of large trucks in fatal accidents rose from 170 in 2012 to 237 in 2016 and 252 in 2017.

Another concerning statistic was the number of accidents taking place in work zones. In 2016, 27.2 percent of all deadly commercial vehicle accidents took place in work zones. Inattention, speeding and fatigue may be factors in these accidents, according to the FMCSA. However, advance technology could help combat this problem.

Victims of an accident caused by a truck, bus or other commercial vehicle should seek prompt legal assistance to help gather and determine whether there are grounds for a lawsuit against a negligent driver and their employer. An attorney can help pursue their right to compensation.

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