There were 3,921 fatalities and 104,000 injuries from truck crashes in 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That’s over ten fatal crashes and over 284 injuries a day. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported that fatal truck crashes were up over 18% between 2009 and 2012, although the annual distance trucks travel on the highway is down 2.67% and the number of trucks is down 2.86%.
A recent story by NBC News talked about the surge in truck accidents and lack of public outcry. Fatal truck accidents are all too common, averaging nearly 11 times every single day in this country, killing nearly 4,000 people each year, and injuring more than 100,000, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
The NBC report likened those numbers to a commuter jet crashing every single week of the year, killing everyone on board. NBC’s interviews with regulators, industry representatives, lawyers and victims, revealed a mix of causes for the deaths. Reasons included everything from overly tired drivers and companies that don’t screen for problem drivers to a government that is slow to demand new safety technologies and cars weaving too close to trucks. NBC said what is clear is that in any other industry, this many deaths each year would generate a national outcry, but because the accidents are scattered across the country, they often don’t receive national attention.
According to the FMCSA, 171,150 truck drivers were taken out of service once inspected in 2012 for having too many violations. That same year, 2,145,733 trucks were taken out of service once inspected for having too many violations.
Through all of the fatal accidents, the trucking industry is growing. There were 10,659,380 trucks traveling inter-state on American roads in 2012, according to the FMCSA. The American Trucking Association (ATA), reported that it expects overall freight tonnage to jump 23.5% from 2013 to 2025, making it necessary to add nearly 100,000 new truck drivers each year over the next decade.
The FMCSA attributes human error as the cause of more than 90% of truck crashes. Active safety and warning technology can play a vital roll in helping to prevent accidents. According to NBC, there are changes on the horizon that could dramatically change the trucking industry and increase safety on the roads. Volvo is working on trucks that use radar to detect cars ahead, and brake automatically if the truck gets too close. The company is working on similar technology that can adjust when a driver drifts out of his lane. Mercedes-Benz is working on a fully autonomous truck, a long-haul road robot.
We’re still years, if not decades away from driverless trucks, so carriers need to be sure to hire, fully train and monitor highly qualified drivers, and be sure their trucks are in proper working order at all times. Carriers and truck drivers need to follow all of the rules, including hours of service, at all times, as well.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, Dan Munley and the Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law can help. Visit www.munley.com for more information.