Each year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) releases its Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts. In March 2019, the FMCSA released its report for accidents in 2017. In compiling its report, FMCSA regulators research accidents involving vehicles such as 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, buses (including school buses), passenger transport vans, and other commercial vehicles, with “large truck” being defined as a truck weighing more than 10,000 pounds and a “bus” defined as any vehicle designed to transport 9 or more people, including the driver.
The report analyzes statistics and reports on the total number of accidents, number of vehicles involved in crashes, number of individuals involved, injuries, fatalities, contributing factors, and more. Ultimately, the goal is to identify trends and reduce bad outcomes from taking place in the future.
Key Truck and Bus Wreck Statistics Released in the New Report
- There were more than 12 million large trucks and buses registered within the U.S.
- 4,889 large trucks and buses were involved in crashes, 9% more than 2016
- 8% more fatal crashes than 2016
- 4,761 fatalities in large truck crushes, up from 4,369 in 2016
- 470 non-motorists and vehicle occupants killed (such as pedestrians and cyclists)
- 5% of large truck drivers in fatal crashes had a BAC of 0.08% or greater
- 229 fatal crashes involving buses
- Of fatal truck accidents in the Mid-South, Tennessee had 136 fatalities, Mississippi had 102, and Arkansas had 84
- 73 school buses were involved in fatal wrecks, the lowest number recorded since 1973
- The top driver factors were speeding, distractions, failure to yield right of way, impairment (including driver fatigue), and careless driving
What These Numbers Mean for the Public
As drivers, learning about annual crash data gives us a snapshot of things we are doing right and wrong. It should also alert businesses and corporations to the risk of not taking measures to ensure driver and vehicle safety.
We should be concerned that large truck accident fatalities increased from 2016. We should always seek to lower fatalities each year. Unfortunately, many of the accidents were caused by human error that could have been prevented:
- Speeding – in the trucking and transport industry, drivers often face significant time crunches. Passengers want to make it to their destination by a certain time, delivery deadlines must be met, and so on. Thus, there can be an incentive to do anything possible to make it to the final destination as quickly as possible. Some interstate truck drivers get paid by mile driven – this gives them an incentive to speed drive as many miles as possible in a given day.
- Distraction – distracted driving affects more than large truck drivers, but it can be more dangerous with these vehicles based on their size and weight. Distracted driving includes cell phone use, texting, surfing the Internet, eating, fiddling with the radio, or doing anything besides focusing 100% on the road.
- Driver fatigue – FMCSA regulations are designed to specifically limit fatigued drivers. Drivers who are tired suffer from limited reaction times, propensity to dozing off, lapses in judgment, and failures in perceiving depth, among other issues. Studies show tired drivers do not make as good of decisions as drivers who are well-rested.
- Careless driving – by paying attention and not speeding, anyone should be able to drive safely. Careless driving falls within the legal definition of negligence. Each state has its own definition for negligence, but generally speaking it means when a driver breaches his legal duty owed to others to drive safely and obey the rules of the road.
- Drunk/impaired driving – commercial truck and bus drivers are prohibited from driving while intoxicated or impaired. For the average driver, the legal limit of intoxication is a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08%. However, most states impose stricter requirements. In Tennessee, Tenn. Code. Ann. 55-50-405(a) states a commercial motor vehicle operator can have his CDL suspended for driving with a BAC of 0.04% or higher.
Let Our Truck Wreck Lawyers Fight for You
Commercial truck accident cases can be much more complex than the average auto accident case. To prove liability and recover damages, it may be necessary to hire expert witnesses and conduct physical inspections of the truck and its component parts. Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz has the resources to fully investigate a crash involving an 18-wheeler or commercial truck, including hiring the necessary experts, all while providing dedicated and personalized client service. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a truck accident, call our personal injury law firm today at 800-529-4004 or fill out our online form for a free consultation with an attorney.