Last week, I discussed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) release of U.S. fatal highway traffic crash data for 2018, noting that the 6,283 pedestrian deaths in 2018 made it the deadliest year for pedestrians since 1990. This was in line with a disturbing long-term pattern of increasing pedestrian fatalities, which have skyrocketed by over 50% in the past decade.
The data also shows that the number of people – especially pedestrians and cyclists – killed in traffic crashes involving large trucks is rising. While the overall increase of individuals killed in large truck accidents from 2017 to 2018 was just 0.9%, pedestrian and cyclist trucking fatalities jumped a staggering 9.7%.
The report noted distracted driving as a major contributing factor behind pedestrian fatalities, with around 10% of fatal crashes involving a distracted driver. Distracted driving has long been a prevalent issue in the commercial trucking industry, with a 2009 study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) finding that 71% of fatal large-truck crashes occurred when the trucker was doing something other than driving. This encompassed activities like dialing, texting or talking on the phone, eating and drinking, using dispatching devices and zoning out or daydreaming while driving.
It is also possible that poor government oversight of the trucking industry holds some of the blame. The U.S. Department recently announced a federal audit of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) due to its failure to keep dangerous truckers off of roads. After a Massachusetts trucker caused a fatal accident that killed seven motorcyclists in June, the state’s Registry of Motor Vehicles conducted an internal investigation and found multiple major safety flaws in its trucker licensing system. For example, thousands of safety warnings submitted by out-of-state agencies about Massachusetts drivers went unopened for at least 16 months. The audit will be conducted at the FMCSA’s Washington, D.C. headquarters and other locations in the U.S. to ensure that licensing agencies are taking action to disqualify dangerous commercial drivers.
If you or a loved one is a victim of an accident involving a commercial truck, it is important to seek help from an experienced auto accident personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.