Tractor Trailer and Large Truck Crashes Decline in 2009

A recent study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) details the causes of truck crashes from 2009. The report, authored by Ralph Craft, Ph.D. for the Analysis Division, noted there were declines in overall truck crashes and the number of fatalities.

The report notes that many factors could have contributed to the decline, including the economy, and numerous safety measures put in place over the last year by the FMCSA, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and other motorist safety groups. Decreased truck accidents and increased road safety are due to a number of factors; no single factor is the sole reason for the change.

Bad Economy Means Fewer Drivers?

One of the largest reasons for the decline in truck crashes is the economy. Historically, motor vehicle fatalities decline during economic recessions. This past year's decline in accidents and reduction in fatalities closely maps to the data from the recessions of the early 1980s and 1990s.

The reduction in freight shipments during 2008 and 2009 certainly played a role, but there was significant increase by the FMSCA: more inspections, compliance reviews, and increased fines. Stricter enforcement forces all drivers and truck companies to increase their awareness and commitment to safety.

Top Factors for Trailer Tractor and Large Truck Accidents

The report lists the top factors for trucking accidents, in order of prevalence:

  • Speeding
  • Failure to keep in proper lane
  • Not paying attention to the road (talking, eating, etc.)
  • Failure to yield right-of-way
  • Failure to obey traffic signs
  • Overcorrecting
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Under influence of alcohol, drugs, medications
  • Improper following, such as tailgating
  • Making an improper turn
  • Erratic or reckless driving

Speeding was the cause of crashes 18 percent of the time, which is understandable, given the physics of a large truck weighing up to 80,000 lbs moving at highway speeds that may be as fast as 110 feet per second.

Fatal Crashes on the Decline, But Truck Accidents Still Happen

While the overall fatal crashes involving large trucks or tractor-trailers dropped 20 percent (from 3,854 to 2,987) those crashes still resulted in the not insubstantial number of 3,380 fatalities. While an improvement from the previous year, that is still a substantial number of people tragically losing their lives due to the negligence of another.

If you have been involved with a type of a crash involving a large truck or tractor-trailer, speak with an experienced trucking accident attorney . Truck accidents usually involve multiple parties and may result in complex litigation. A knowledgeable attorney can help you determine the best course of action based on your facts.