By John Cooper, Virginia Trucking Accident Attorney
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) recently claimed the money the industry has spent in safety improvements is paying off, after a fall in the number of deaths caused by big rigs on the roads of America.
The ATA seized on figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), that found there were 3,903 truck-involved fatalities in 2014, a decline of 61 from the previous year.
While the figures give cause for optimism, one fatal trucking accident is too many and big rig accidents still occur with a frightening regularity in Virginia and elsewhere.
The ATA said its analysis of Department of Transportation data shows the long term and the short term rate of deaths involving trucks is declining.
“America’s trucking industry has invested billions to improve safety and that commitment is paying off,” stated ATA President and CEO Bill Graves.
The ATA’s analysis of both miles traveled data from the Federal Highway Administration and highway accident data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), found the truck-involved fatality rate fell for the second straight year to 1.40 per 100 million miles traveled.
Big Rigs Cause a Disproportionate Number of Deaths
There were 3,903 truck-involved fatalities in 2014, a drop of 61 from 2013. As the economy improved, the number of miles traveled by large trucks rose to more than 279 billion, the report stated. The figures only represent deaths in which a large truck was a factor in the crash. They were not necessarily accidents caused by truck drivers.
Although the ATA made much of the figures, the decline in deaths linked to big rigs has not been constant. In 2012, there was an increase in the number of deaths linked to tractor trailers.
There were also a disproportionate number of deaths caused by big trucks. Even though they only comprise 3 percent of all vehicles on the road, giant trucks cause about 12 percent of deaths. About three-quarters of those who lose their lives in these crashes are in smaller vehicles.
Another cause for concern is the large number of trucking accidents that are caused by driver fatigue. Often trucking companies place unreasonable demands on drivers causing them to fall asleep at the wheel. A trucking company may fail to properly manage the abuse of prescribed drugs or conditions like diabetes or sleep apnea that can cause wrecks. America also suffers from an acute shortage of truckers that is putting other drivers at peril.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident caused by a big rig, we want to hear from you. Call us at (866) 455-6657.