Young & McCarthy LLP

NHTSA finds increase in fatal large truck crashes in 2017

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported on traffic crash trends in 2017, and some of its findings may be of interest to Ohio drivers. There seems to be good reason to be uneasy driving around large trucks: 2017 saw a 9 percent increase in fatal large truck crashes whereas all other types of motor vehicle crashes saw a decrease in fatalities.

Specifically, there was an increase from 4,369 to 4,761 deaths in large truck crashes. Multi-vehicle crashes involving large trucks went up 8.8 percent. While passenger vehicle occupants made up 7.6 percent more of the fatalities in 2017, large truck occupants made up a startling 16 percent more of the fatalities.

It should be noted that NHTSA defines a large truck as a truck with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds. Fatal crashes with trucks weighing between 10,000 and 14,000 pounds actually doubled. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which commented on NHTSA's report, many of the trucks in these fatal crashes were less than 26,000 pounds. Thus, they may not have been regulated by the FMCSA.

By contrast, the total number of people killed in traffic accidents went down from 37,806 to 37,133. The most positive differences were seen in the area of speeding-related crash fatalities at a 5.6 percent decrease and bicyclist deaths at an 8.1 percent decrease.

Many fatal truck accidents arise out of the trucker's negligence. Truckers might violate hours-of-service regulations and fall asleep behind the wheel, for example. Families of accident victims may choose to file a wrongful death suit against the trucking company and, if successful, might be covered for funeral and burial expenses, pre-death medical bills and loss of support or consortium. Accident attorneys may have teams of investigators to help build up a case.

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