As drivers in West Virginia may be aware, commercial truck accidents often lead to fatalities. Unfortunately, the number of such fatal crashes seems to be increasing. The newest data drill-down report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has revealed a 3 percent increase in fatal truck crashes in 2016. There were 4,213 trucks involved in fatal crashes that year, compared to 4,074 trucks the year before.
The number of fatalities rose from 4,094 to 4,317 in addition to an increase in the number of large-truck occupants who died, from 665 to 772. According to the FMCSA, 61 percent of the accidents occurred in rural areas and 27 percent on interstate highways. A third took place between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. when drowsiness and poor visibility are frequent issues. Most fatal and non-fatal crashes involving trucks arose on the weekdays.
About 73 percent of fatal truck crashes had for their “pre-crash event” some other vehicle, person, animal or object that was in the same lane or approaching it. The number one cause of crashes was speeding, either on the trucker’s part or the other driver’s. The second most common cause was distracted driving. Only 2 percent of truck drivers had a blood alcohol content above the legal limit of .08. On the other hand, over 20 percent of the passenger vehicle drivers involved had a BAC above .08.
Speeding and drowsiness on the trucker’s part can sometimes be taken as reflections of trucking company negligence. Perhaps the trucker was encouraged to work over the allotted hours of service, for example. Truck accident victims, if they intend to file a claim, may want a lawyer to help them build up the case. Lawyers might bring in experts to find proof of such negligence, which could include work logs and in-cab cameras, before attempting to negotiate for a settlement on the client’s behalf.