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NHTSA and FMCSA look into worrying increase in truck accidents

Missouri motorists might be aware that the number of truck accidents around the country has risen in the last 10 years. This is concerning for road safety advocates because about 15 million semi-tractor trailers transport about 70 percent of the goods purchased in the United States. To better understand the causes of this disturbing rise in truck accidents and truck accident deaths, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration studied a representative example of about 120,000 fatal truck accidents that took place over a 33-month period.

Deadly truck crashes are often blamed on inexperienced, impatient or reckless passenger vehicle drivers, but the NHTSA and FMCSA Large Truck Crash Causation Study suggests that truck drivers are more often responsible. About three-quarters of the accidents studied by the federal safety agencies involved a semi-tractor trailer striking at least one other vehicle, and more than half of them were caused by truck drivers who made a mistake of some sort.

According to the NHTSA and FMCSA study, 38 percent of the deadly truck accidents were caused by truck drivers who made unwise decisions such as following another vehicle too closely, driving too fast for road or weather conditions or exceeding posted speed limits. About 28 percent were caused by truck drivers who were distracted or not paying proper attention, and a further 12 percent of the deadly tractor-trailer crashes were put down to fatigue.

When their clients have been injured in commercial vehicle accidents caused by recklessness, distraction or fatigue, experienced personal injury attorneys may initiate litigation against the negligent truck drivers involved. However, they may also take legal action against their employers in certain situations. Trucking companies could be sued when they allowed unqualified or untrained drivers to get behind the wheel, and they may also be held accountable when federal safety regulations or hours of service rules were ignored.