For decades, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has kept extensive records of accidents involving commercial vehicles, such as large trucks and buses. By compiling annual statistics about these accidents, the FMCSA reveals trends that can give us a better sense of the safety of U.S. roadways.
The FMSCA recently published the statistics for 2017, and compiled them into charts going back to 1975. Looking at the beginning of the chart, we see there were 4,032 fatal crashes involving large trucks or buses reported in 1975, leading to 4,816 total fatalities. Nearly 40 years later, in 2017, the numbers had increased to 4,455 fatal crashes and 5,005 fatalities.
These statistics are sobering, but they should be seen in context. While the number of deaths in 2017 was higher than in 1975, there were a lot more buses and trucks on the road in 2017. In 1975, the FMCSA reported 5,824,525 large trucks and buses registered. By 2017, that number had more than doubled to 13,212,447. These figures suggest that large trucks and buses are safer today than they were in 1975.
However, the charts show some worrisome signs when we look at more recent trends. While fatal accidents involving large trucks and buses decreased 34% between 2005 and 2009, they have increased since then. Between 2009 and 2017, these fatal crashes rose by 40%. Just between 2016 and 2017, they rose 8%.
To people who have been injured or lost someone in a truck or bus accident, these numbers may seem highly abstract. Every injury or loss is highly personal and needs personal attention.
Accidents involving large commercial vehicles are different from other motor vehicle accidents in a number of ways. First and foremost, they are more likely to lead to serious injury or death simply because the vehicles are so much bigger and heavier than typical cars and trucks. Second, the legal issues are more complicated because employers can be held liable after their employees injure someone through negligence.
A personal injury lawyer with experience in commercial vehicle accidents can help the injured or surviving family members to understand their rights and legal options.